TWO men who carried out a “vicious and sustained attack” on a dad-of-three have been sentenced for murder.
Stephen Arthur Hunter and Samuel Atcheson, who both live in Co. Antrim, were sentenced today at Belfast Crown Court for the murder of Donald Fraser-Rennie in 2020.
Atcheson, of Crebilly Road in Ballymena, and Hunter, of Lantara in Ballymena, previously pleaded guilty to murdering the 33-year-old, who was found dead in Atcheson’s flat on September 30, 2020.
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.
The court heard that the pair had met Mr Fraser-Rennie the previous afternoon, where they had purchased alcohol together and gone to Atcheson’s flat.
It was later that day that both men set upon him in a “vicious and sustained” attack.
Parts of the attack were filmed by Atcheson and Hunter, who later tried to delete the evidence.
Following the sentencing, PSNI Detective Inspector Claire McGarvey explained: “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, September 30, 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 September 29.
“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.”
She added: “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.”
Thanking those that helped secure convictions for Mr Fraser-Rennie’s murder, Det Insp McGarvey said: “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.”