Jim's killer pleads guilty

A YOUNG man is facing life in prison after he admitted killing Culter motorbike ace Jim Silver in a drunken rage.

Salesman Paul Baird, 23, pleaded guilty at court in Northern Ireland on Monday to killing Mr Silver with a metal candlestick.

Mr Silver, 48, was stabbed and battered to death by Baird, who had returned from a wedding to find the North-east man in the company of his mother at her Ballyclare home in County Antrim, Northern Ireland.

Believing his mother was being taken advantage of, Baird attacked Mr Silver with a metal candlestick.

The minimum sentence Baird can expect to serve will be set next month.

At Monday's hearing Baird wiped tears from his eyes as Mr Justice Declan Morgan told him that under law he must be sentenced to life.

He said: "I will have to decide how long of that sentence you must serve before it is safe for you to be returned to society."

The judge asked for pre-sentencing reports before Baird's next court appearance on June 18.

Baird's counsel James Gallagher asked for psychiatric reports and references to be submitted along with the reports.

Mr Silver's family travelled to Belfast for Monday's five minute hearing..

After the verdict Mr Silver's sister, Mary, said: "We are all glad this is finally over and we can get on with our lives. He has gone down for the murder and that was the most important thing.

"The family was looking for justice and we got that today. It has been dreadful at times for all of us as we are a very close-knit family. I was very close to Jim and there were only 11 months between us."

A court hearing in 2002 was told that Baird had "an enormous amount to drink" when he returned home from the wedding to find Mr Silver watching television with his mother.

Believing his mother was being taken advantage of, he attacked Mr Silver with a metal candlestick.

Mr Silver's body was found at a grassy area at Hawthorn Way, Ballyclare.

Detective Sergeant Kevin Geddes, who was involved in the murder case, was also at the court today.

He said: "It is all done and dusted now, and that is a big relief for them.

"It was good for them to be able to come over to see the court appearance."

He added: "Baird was arrested just a few hours after the attack and we would like to thank those in the local community who were extremely co-operative.

"They called the police and came forward quickly when we needed to speak to witnesses."