Life sentence imposed in Denise Dunlop murder

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A Portglenone man has been given a life sentence after he admitted murdering his partner in her Ballymena home last year.

Richard McAuley (41) had originally denied the murder of 32-year-old Denise Dunlop last June.

Denise Dunlop.

Denise Dunlop.

McAuley, of Townhill Road, Portglenone, changed his plea during Monday’s hearing at Antrim Crown Court.

Although no details of her death were outlined in court, it is understood she was stabbed in Centuripe Avenue in the early hours of Father’s Day 2014.

A defence barrister asked the court, sitting in Belfast, for the murder charge to be put to his client again and this time McAuley replied: “Guilty”.

The judge told him the law permitted only one penalty for murder, and that was life imprisonment.

Richard McAuley.

Richard McAuley.

However, he added that that a tariff would be set at a later date, indicating when McAuley may become eligible for release by the Parole Commissioners.

Ms Dunlop, a mother of two, had lived in what was known as ‘the army houses’ area of Ballymena.

Forensic investigators at murder scene last year

Ms Dunlop was killed at her home in Centuripe Avenue last June.