Killers who licked blood from victim’s face jailed for savage murder
Two men who licked the blood from their murdered victim’s face have been jailed for an “unmerciful and savage murder”. Samuel Atcheson and Steven Arthur Hunter, both from Northern Ireland killed Donald Harold Fraser-Rennie, 33, on October 29, 2020. Atcheson will spend a minimum of 16 years behind bars before he is eligible for parole while Hunter will spend at least 15 years caged.
Fraser-Rennie’s lifeless body was discovered at Atcheson’s flat by the police, Belfast Live reported.
Prosecutors said that the victim died as a result of an “unmerciful, prolonged and sustained attack.”
The murderers filmed their crime, with Hunter’s 58-second video being shown in Belfast Crown Court last month.
During the trial, Senior prosecutor Ciaran Murphy KC explained that after the murder, Atcheson sent a Facebook message to a relative saying: “There is a dead man in my flat.”
Atcheson then dialled 999 the morning after the attack and told a call handler: “We need your assistance at 5D Crebilly Road as soon as possible. A male has been beat up. Believed to be dead. It is quite a gory scene. We have literally just arrived on the scene. At the moment all we have is Donald.”
According to Mr Murphy, on the call, Atcheson added: “It was Steven Hunter. He is away to his girlfriend’s flat. Hunter put a screwdriver into Donald’s face.”
When police arrived on the scene, they found the victim “lying on his back with no pulse… and his face was indented”, said Mr Murphy.
The court heard from Madam Justice McBride, presiding over the case, that Atcheson and Hunter subjected Mr Fraser-Rennie to a “savage, vicious and merciless prolonged beating involving multiple punches, kicks, and blows”.
An autopsy showed he suffered “blunt force trauma of the head and chest, with compressions to the neck and acute alcohol intoxication”.
It added: “There were multiple blows to the head consistent with him being the victim of a sustained physical assault with punches, kicks, stamps and blows with a weapon. He had nine fractured ribs and there was bleeding on the brain”
At the time of the killing, Atcheson also contacted his girlfriend via a video call and turned the phone to show Fraser-Rennie’s lifeless body with blood coming from his mouth.
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Ms McBride added: “Hunter and Atcheson were laughing and she saw Hunter score a screwdriver down the right side of the deceased’s face.
“Both then licked blood off the side of the deceased’s face. Atcheson then kicked the deceased in the head and face at least ten times. There was blood everywhere in the flat”.
She added how when police handcuffed Hunter, who had “blood staining around his fingernails”, he admitted he punched the deceased twice in the face, kicked him while on the ground and “straddled him, grabbed his cheeks with both hands and squeezed his fingers into them”.
But Hunter then went on to claim the victim was alive when he left the flat. He said Atcheson had been fighting with him.
Madam Justice McBride said: “This was clearly a lie as the CCTV footage shows Atcheson and Hunter at the local petrol station at 4.11pm that afternoon.”
Atcheson also turned on Hunter, claiming he was to blame for all the victim’s injuries.
However, the court heard there was evidence of a deliberate cleanup to dispose of evidence. Ms McBride noted “fire embers showed they tried to destroy evidence”.
She added that no term of imprisonment could “equate to or restore human life nor can it alleviate the profound grief, pain and loss to the deceased’s family”.
Talking about a victim statement from Mr Fraser-Rennie’s partner Mary Cotton, which McBride read, she said: “She has lost a partner and now has to struggle as a single parent.
“Their two children have lost a much-loved father and have to face the future without his presence, support and guidance. No term of imprisonment can equate to or restore human life nor can it alleviate the profound grief, pain and loss to the deceased’s family which they now have to live with on a daily basis.”
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