Oldham man sentenced to life behind bars for murdering his friend

Lee Francis Burns will spend a minimum of 20 years in prison.

Emily Sergeant Emily Sergeant - 23rd May 2024

A man from Oldham has been sentenced to life behind bars after being found guilty of murdering his friend.

Lee Francis Burns, of Worsley Street in Oldham, was yesterday (22 May) sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 20 years for murdering 45-year-old Vincent McDonagh late last year, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) confirmed.

His sentencing comes after police were called to reports of a man being unconscious in the street on Abbey Hills Road in Oldham at around 11:55pm on Thursday 9 November 2023.

When officers arrived at the scene, they found Vincent McDonagh – who was known as Vinny – with a “serious head injury”, but despite the best efforts of all emergency services involved, he he tragically passed away a short time later.

The court heard yesterday how the two “supposed friends” first headed out to a local pub.


After Vinny gave Burns £20 to buys some drinks, both men decided to play some pool, and then, after half an hour of being at the pub, the pair engaged in “verbal altercation” – but this “quickly ended with a handshake”.

Abbey Hills Road in Oldham, where the tragic incident occurred last year / Credit: Google Maps

As the night went on, the pals continued drinking and subsequently left the pub “in good spirits” at around 10:50pm, but CCTV footage appeared to show the men engaging in another verbal altercation as they were walking home, which then went on to become “physical”.


According to GMP, Burns punched Vinny in the arm, which caused him to slip and end up on the floor, and although Vinny tried to fend off Burns using his leg as a shield, the latter remained intent on “escalating the violence”, and after managing to get around his friend, Burns then followed-up with punches to knock Vinny unconscious, and finished off with further punches and stamps to the head before leaving the area and heading home.

When Burns arrived home, he apparently said to a neighbour “I think I’ve killed Vinny, I’ve stamped on his head”.

Less than six hours later, Burns was arrested on suspicion of murder after officers established his identity following “extensive CCTV research”.


Throughout the trial, GMP says Burns “maintained innocence” and claimed he was “acting in self-defence”.

Speaking following Burns being sentenced to a minimum of 20 years in prison yesterday, Detective Inspector Paul Davies, from GMP’s Serious Crime Division, explained: “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. 

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“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.”

Featured Image – GMP