More than two months after Bridgton woman Emma Thomas, 20, was raped and killed in a brutal gang rape at the local shopping centre, the Bridgate inquiry into the crime has heard that the gang of four were guilty of murder.
The jury was told that two of the defendants, Robert and Michael Ewing, who were the two who killed Thomas, were sentenced to life imprisonment with no chance of parole for the remainder of their lives.
They were also found guilty of manslaughter.
The first two defendants were acquitted of all charges, but the third was found guilty on all counts.
It was a first time in a rape trial in Northern Ireland that a verdict of murder was reached, meaning the jury will now have to decide whether the defendants were guilty.
However, defence barrister Mark Ewing said the verdict was a result of a fair trial process, which had taken place.
The case, which is due to resume next week, will see jurors examine the evidence in detail and make their decision on the sentence.
There was no immediate reaction from the family or friends of Thomas, who was raped in April 2013, when she went to buy a Christmas gift.
Her body was found in the car park of a Bridgmont shopping centre on April 16, the same day as she went missing.
Her killer, Robert Ewing Jr, was jailed for life last year for his role in the attack.
Thomas was the victim of a serial killer named Robert Ewart who used a “serial rapist” alias, known as “Mack”, to lure women to his home in the hope of rape.
The gang also used “The Red Ring of Death”, a phrase coined by the gang, in order to lure victims, particularly young women, to their deaths.
The court heard that Thomas’s murder was not the first time the Bridgingtons were involved in a crime, with Thomas having been the victim three times before the murders.
The Bridgertons were arrested in October 2013 in the town of Londonderry after they were spotted at a party where they were celebrating the birth of a baby girl.
They initially denied knowing anything about the crime, but later admitted they were involved and were given 10 years’ jail terms for their role in her murder.