Killer fails in appeal of murder conviction

A man jailed for the “execution” of a fight opponent outside a Co Tyrone hotel has failed in a bid to overturn his murder conviction.

Tuesday, 31st August 2021, 5:37 pm

Frankie ‘Studs’ Lanigan, 57, challenged the verdict that he shot John Knocker in the head back in May 1998.

But the Court of Appeal rejected claims that flawed DNA evidence rendered the guilty verdict unsafe.

Senior judges also dismissed a separate attempt by Lanigan to have his minimum 20-year prison term reduced.

Stock photo

Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan set out how Lanigan finished off the 22-year-old victim as he lay on the ground, intimidating onlookers in the process.

He said: “That message was enhanced by the swagger with which he made his way to the getaway vehicle having carried out the execution.”

Lanigan, formerly of Knockmore Square in Lisburn, Co Antrim, fought extradition from the Irish Republic before being convicted last year of murder and possessing a 9mm Browning pistol.

The non-jury trial heard how the two men fought at the former Glengannon Hotel near Dungannon.

Lanigan was said to have armed himself with the pistol and chased Mr Knocker after being beaten in their clash.

He allegedly fired a first shot which brought the victim to the ground, before shooting again at point blank range.

According to the trial judge there was overwhelming evidence that Lanigan carried out the killing to prove “who was the boss”.

However, defence representatives disputed the safety of the conviction, raising issues over the admissibility of DNA samples obtained from a coffee cup in Dublin.

A further ground of appeal centred on the trial judge’s approach to the absence of forensic evidence or blood on the pistol.

However, Sir Declan held that it was not necessary to reach a conclusion about every aspect of the events on the night in question and ruled the convition was safe.

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