Detectives from the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Major Investigation Team have welcomed the sentences handed down to four men in relation to the murder of Paul Smyth and a further attempted murder. Both incidents took place, just days apart, in Lisburn in June 2019.
Paul Smyth was shot dead at his home in Coulson Avenue in Lisburn in the early hours of 19 June 2019.
Some days later, in the early hours of 23 June, a shot was fired at a family home in the Mill Street area of the city. The shot, which was fired from the street, hit and shattered the window of the property. While no one was physically injured, the occupants were left traumatised.
Today (Monday 25 April) at Belfast Crown Court, James McVeigh, aged 32, was sentenced to a minimum of 18 years’ imprisonment, having pleaded guilty to the murder of Paul Smyth.
Ryan Megarry, aged 39, who had pleaded guilty to encouraging or assisting offenders, having identified Paul Smyth's home, was sentenced to 18 months – nine months to be served in custody and nine months to be served on licence.
James Holmes, aged 35, was sentenced to 13 years in custody with an extended licence period of three years, after pleading guilty to firearms offences and attempted murder in relation to the gun attack in Mill Street.
James Stewart, aged 32, was sentenced to 10 years – five years to be served in custody and five on licence – after pleading guilty to firearms offences relating to Mill Street.
Detective Inspector Ian Davis said: “Paul Smyth, who was 50 years old, died as a result of a shotgun wound to the chest.
“He had been murdered, by James McVeigh, at his home in Lisburn’s Coulson Avenue. He was shot in the early hours of Wednesday 19 June 2019 and we believe this was when McVeigh obtained a large sum of money. Mr Smyth was sadly found dead by a neighbour that Friday (21 June).
“Forensic evidence connects the murder of Paul Smyth and the subsequent attempted murder, and it’s worryingly clear that we could easily have been dealing with more than one fatality.
“My thoughts are, first and foremost, with Mr Smyth’s family.
“Today’s sentencing will, of course, never take away their pain, and I can only hope that it helps to bring some degree of closure.
“It also sends out a clear message to anyone who thinks they can get away with such atrocity: we will work tirelessly and relentlessly to bring offenders before the courts, so that victims and their families receive the justice they deserve.”
Statement from Teresa Valliday, Paul Smyth’s sister
Paul was my much-loved younger brother – my only sibling. He was the last immediate member of my childhood family.
My brother was brutally and cruelly murdered in his own home almost three years ago. His life was taken; and I’ve had my heart ripped apart.
Paul was a good man. He was a vulnerable man, who rarely left his house as a result of agoraphobia. In fact, his home was the only place where he felt safe.
I know he wasn’t perfect – no one is. He had issues. He struggled with alcoholism and mental health issues, but, still, he was determined to try to help others.
While in recovery from alcoholism, he set up a website where people, from all over the world, could connect with each other and find support for mental health and addiction issues. With the help of others, in particular two brilliant colleagues, they offered help to those who were suicidal or in crisis. The two have managed to keep the site up and running. This is a lasting tribute to Paul, and I know he would have been so pleased.
This is how I remember him. This is how my sons and daughter remember their uncle, and it’s this side of him – this desire to help others – that I want everyone to see.
We miss him more than I can say. And those whom he tried to help online will miss him too. No one should ever have to experience the pain – the sheer torment – of a precious life lost needlessly and so cruelly.
Paul’s murderer has been brought before court today and the judge has passed sentence. Now we have to, somehow, try to heal.
We’re truly grateful to everyone – including the entire investigation team and Kathryn, the Family Liaison Officer – who have all helped get us this far.