Irish Independent

Ex-Orange chief gets 15 years for brutal murder

18 September 2004

A FORMER district master in the Orange Order gave the "thumbs up" to friends and relatives after being told he will serve at least 15 years of a life term for the murder of a father of two.

Harry Speers, (45), Carntall Road, Newtownabbey, Co Antrim, made the sign as he was led from Belfast Crown Court where he was sentenced with Ron Craig (20), Richmond Avenue, Glengormley, Co Antrim, for the murder of Trevor Lowry (49), also of Glengormley.

Craig - a schoolboy when Mr Lowry was attacked over two years ago - was told he must serve at least 11 years. Mr Lowry died on March 31, 2001, two days after being lured into an alley at Harmin Drive by Speers and Craig and another teenager. Authorities said it was believed Mr Lowry, a Protestant, was targeted in the belief he was a Catholic.

Mr Justice Girvan said it seemed Mr Lowry's attackers "didn't care whether he lived or died". He said Craig had lied in claiming he was not involved in the attack, but had tried to stop it. The judge said Speers had shown no remorse for the savage kicking of Mr Lowry and had either participated in the assault or encouraged it. As a person of standing in his community it was well within his powers to stop the assault, he added."In terms of moral turpitude he carries a graver responsibility than Craig, who was obviously an irresponsible young man of limited intelligence," added Mr Justice Girvan.

Earlier the judge said he had read victim impact reports relating to Mr Lowry's wife Joan and children.

The reports, he added, "underline the dreadful traumatic effect the murder had caused".

Michael Donnelly

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