Man sentenced to life imprisonment for murder committed in 1988

Samuel Dunwoody

Samuel Dunwoody, 52 from Birmingham, has been convicted of murdering 68 year-old Margaret Telford 25 years-ago.

Dunwoody has been sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 19 years for the attack on the pensioner in 1988.  Mrs Telford, a widow in poor health at the time of her death, was found strangled at her home in north Belfast, after Dunwoody had broken in to steal money.  Police say Mrs Telford knew Dunwoody, and had invited him into her home.  He was then caught red-handed trying to steal money and is said to have murdered Ms Telford in an effort to get away with the theft.

The case was re-opened when DNA evidence linking Dunwoody was found under Mrs Telford’s fingernails.  He pleaded not guilty to the murder, but was convicted by a Belfast jury in just 2 hours.  It is said that he later admitted to the offence.

More on the case can be found here and here

3 thoughts on “Man sentenced to life imprisonment for murder committed in 1988

  1. Sara Williams Post author

    We have sentencing guidelines for murder cases. The majority (those not falling into the “whole life” category) will fall into one of three categories:

    ‘30 years’ – murders in the following categories:

    the murder of a police officer or prison officer in the course of his duty,
    a murder involving the use of a firearm or explosive,
    a murder done for gain (such as a murder done in the course or furtherance of robbery or burglary, done for payment or done in the expectation of gain as a result of the death),
    a murder intended to obstruct or interfere with the course of justice,
    a murder involving sexual or sadistic conduct,
    the murder of two or more persons,
    a murder that is racially or religiously aggravated or aggravated by sexual orientation, or
    a murder that would have a whole life tariff, but where the murderer was aged under 21 when he committed the offence.

    ‘25 years’ – if the murder was committed by a knife or other weapon that was taken to the murder site intending to commit ANY offence (not just the murder) or to have it available as a weapon.

    ‘15 years’ – all other cases.

    We don’t have full details of the offence so it’s difficult to see whether it could have fallen into the 30 year category, as a murder done for gain (in the course of a burglary) or into the 15 year category.

  2. Andrew

    Wouldn’t the practice prevalent at the time be relevant at least if it was more lenient?


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