Stephen Hunter and Samuel Atcheson were sentenced today, 2 May, for the murder of Donald Fraser-Rennie.

Donald Fraser-Rennie

Mr Fraser-Rennie, who was 33 years old, was found dead in a flat in Ballymena in September 2020.

Today, the pair appeared before Belfast Crown Court, having previously pleaded guilty to his murder.

Hunter, aged 32, was sentenced to serve a minimum of 15 years in custody.

Atcheson, aged 36, was sentenced to serve a minimum of 16 years in custody.

Detective Inspector Claire McGarvey said: “Officers, along with colleagues from the Ambulance Service, attended Atcheson’s home in the Ballykeel area of the town in the early hours of Wednesday 30 September 2020.  Here, Donald Fraser-Rennie was found lying on the floor and covered in blood, and was sadly subsequently pronounced dead at the scene.

“We know the attack took place the previous day, on the afternoon of 29 September.

“CCTV footage shows all three men together in the early afternoon.  Having purchased alcohol, they head in the direction of Atcheson’s flat.  And it’s here that the vicious and sustained attack, carried out by the defendants, takes place.

“Footage captured from Hunter’s mobile, taken later that afternoon, shows parts of a distressingly violent beating.  The video clip had been deleted before the defendant’s phone was seized, but was recovered thanks to colleagues in our Cyber Crime Unit.

“The attack by both defendants was brutal, and their actions in the hours that followed were callous.  It’s the early hours of the next day before emergency services are contacted.  In the interim period, the two leave the scene and try to destroy evidence, including their clothing.”

Detective Inspector McGarvey continued: “Today, thanks to our dedicated team and working in partnership with our colleagues in the Public Prosecution Service, the defendants have been held accountable for their actions. 

“Donald's family have lost their loved one.  The life of a loving fiancé and father was taken in the most brutal and shocking of attacks, and there are no words that can ease their pain. Today my thoughts remain with them.”