ALMOST a year to the day after an elderly couple with connections to County Fermanagh were stabbed to death in their Portadown home, a 41-year old man appeared in court and admitted killing them.

Thomas Scott McEntee - who is originally from Moorfield Court in Kilkeel but with a current address at the secure Shannon Unit in Knockbracken Healthcare Clinic in south Belfast - was originally charged with murdering Michael and Marjorie Cawdery last May.

Last Wednesday, he denied murdering the couple - but admitted to their manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

The couple, who were both 83, died in their Upper Ramone Park home in Portadown on May 26 last year.

Michael and Marjorie had lived with their three children in Lisbellaw for more than 20 years before moving to Portadown.

They were remembered fondly by their former Fermanagh neighbour, David Hamill, as a “private couple” who were “very gracious people”.

After McEntee admitted to the double manslaughter in court last week, the couple’s son-in-law Charles Little welcomed the plea and said “it has taken a lot of pressure off the family”.

McEntee appeared at Craigavon Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, where he was flanked by two members of staff from Knockbracken.

Defence counsel, Kieran Mallon QC, told Mr Justice Colton: “I have an application to make this morning.”

Mr. Mallon said that after being furnished with two medical reports compiled on McEntee, “in light of that, I have an application that the accused be re-arraigned on all counts”.

A total of nine charges were put to him by the clerk of the court - including murdering Mr. and Mrs. Cawdery.

When he was asked to enter a plea to the two murder charges, McEntee said: “Not guilty of murder, guilty of manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility.”

Crown barrister, Peter Irvine QC, told the court: “Those pleas are accepted by the prosecution.”

McEntee also pleaded guilty to a further five charges committed on May 26, 2017, namely breaking into Mr. and Mrs. Cawdery’s home with a knife and stealing a bank card and car keys, indecently exposing himself, stealing their Renault Kangoo and causing damage to it, and driving dangerously.

In addition, he admitted two counts of theft on the same date, and also entered a guilty plea to breaking into a house at Derrybeg Lane in Newry and stealing a key on May 25, 2017.

Following McEntee’s admissions of guilt, Mr. Mallon asked that pre-sentence reports be compiled, in addition to the psychiatric reports that have already been prepared.

Also ordered were Victim Impact Reports, which will set out the affect the violent incident has had on Mr. and Mrs. Cawdery’s loved ones.

Noting this will be a “difficult sentencing exercise”, Mr. Justice Colton said he would hear the plea on Friday, June 22, before he concluded by returning McEntee to the Shannon Clinic.