In the first case of its kind, a man who has already served a jail term was sentenced to life on Wednesday for the murder of his victim who died nine years after a sectarian attack left him in a coma from which he never awoke.
In 2009, Londonderry man Piper John McClements (28) was jailed for the loyalist attack on Catholic civil servant Paul McCauley, who was beaten as he attended a barbeque in the Waterside area of the city on July 16, 2006.
The father-of-one spent the next nine years in a persistent vegetative state and passed away whilst in care on June 6, 2015.
On Wednesday, a bearded McClements, from the Fountain Estate - who was originally jailed under his former name of Daryl Proctor - hung his head as he pleaded guilty to the murder of Mr McCauley.
Defence QC Martin O’Rourke had asked for the murder charge to be put to McClements again, just as his trial before Londonderry Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, was due to get under way.
Following the guilty plea, Mr Justice Colton told McClements that under law, he must impose a sentence of life imprisonment, but that a tariff hearing would be held in the future to determine how long he will spent in prison before being considered eligible for release.
Mr O’Rourke applied for pre-sentence reports and told the court the defence may be obtaining medical reports on his client.
In the meantime, the trial of a second Londonderry man, 31-year old Matthew Brian Gillen of Bond Street, was adjourned at the request of the prosecution, until Thursday.