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Man sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering his friend Vinny McDonagh

At around 11.55pm on Thursday 9 November 2023, we were called to reports of a man unconscious in the street on Abbey Hills Road in Oldham.

Officers attended and found Vinny with a serious head injury. Despite best efforts of the emergency services, he tragically passed away a short time later.

The court heard how the two supposed friends headed to a local pub after Vinny lent Burns £20 to purchase some drinks.

Both men were playing pool and after half an hour at being at the pub, the pair engaged in verbal altercation which quickly ended with a handshake.

As the night went on, Vinny and Burns continued drinking and subsequently left the pub at around 10.50pm with the pair being described as in good spirits as they departed.

CCTV footage shows both men walking in direction of their home address, before another verbal altercation took place where it continued before becoming physical.

Burns threw a punch which connected with the arm of Vinny which caused him to slip and end up on the floor.

Vinny tried to fend off Burns using his leg as a shield, but he remained intent on escalating the violence.

After managing to get around him, Burns followed up with punches which knocked Vinny unconscious. The assault did not end there, with further punches and stamps to the head.

Burns then left the area and headed for home where he said to a neighbour ‘I think I’ve killed Vinny, I’ve stamped on his head’, all while Vinny remained on Abbey Hills Road unmoved.

Less than six hours later - in the early hours of Friday morning – Burns was arrested on suspicion of murder after our officers established his identity following extensive CCTV research.

Detective Inspector Paul Davies from our Serious Crime Division said: “I would like to convey my deepest condolences to Vinny’s fiancé Demi and their son Frankie, who will have to continue their lives without Vinny, something that will undoubtedly leave a huge void in their family.

“Vinny and Lee Burns were friends and spent the evening in their local pub. Whilst walking home, Burns began to shout and become aggressive toward Vinny before taking him to the floor. He continued to assault him, knocking him unconscious as he lay defenceless on the ground.

“Burns then made his way home making no attempt to get help for Vinny. Throughout this trial, he has maintained innocence saying he was acting in self-defence.

“Our investigation has been meticulous, and we were able to draw up a timeline of both men’s movements, securing CCTV and audio footage from local premises.

“I would like to thank the initial attending officers and the investigating team whose swift actions, hard work and dedication ensured Burns was identified and arrested within a short space of time. 

“We will continue to support Vinny’s family in every way we can, and I hope today’s result can go some way to providing closure for them.”

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