Man sentenced to life in prison for beating Irishman to death in Philadelphia

Seamus O'Neill's sister Roseanne Sheppard (left) and his fiancée Bonnie Graham Stratton place a kiss on a plaque of the well-liked bartender in front of a memorial that is kept to him at My Blue Heave

The man who beat  60-year-old Seamus O’Neill to death with an aluminum bat following an altercation has been sentenced to life in prison. O’Neill, a Port Richmond bartender, was a Belfast native and engaged at the time of his death. reports that investigators believed the alleged murderer of O’Neill, John McLaughlin, “fancied himself a gangster.” He and O’Neill got into an argument in January 2008 at a Philadelphia bar where O’Neill had gone for an after-hours drink.

During the altercation, McLaughlin allegedly reached for an aluminum baseball bat behind the bar and beat O’Neill to his death. McLaughlin then wrapped O’Neill’s body in a tarp and hid it in a nearby bar’s basement until he could figure out what to do with the body. O’Neill was found the next day by his siblings and fiancee.

Now, just over four years later, O’Neill has finally been delivered justice for his murder. McLaughlin was sentenced to life in prison for first-degree murder in a courtroom that was full of O’Neill’s family and friends.

O’Neill is remembered as a kind man who wouldn’t do harm to anyone. One regular patron of the bar where O’Neill worked recalled him to be respectful, noting that that can go a long way with people.

Mary Jeffrey, O’Neill’s sister, said of John McLaughlin “What he didn't bank on was that he wasn't as feared as much as our brother Seamus was loved.”