Cordon in court as McDaid accused appears

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The Independent Online

The widow of murdered Catholic Kevin McDaid sat silently in court yesterday as a man was charged with killing her husband and attacking her during a night of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland.

Supported by family and friends Evelyn McDaid watched as James McAfee, of Lisnablagh Road, Coleraine, was brought handcuffed into the dock at Ballymena Magistrates Court.

The 28-year-old was also charged with attempting to murder Mr McDaid’s neighbour Damien Fleming, aggravated assault and common assault.

A number of police officers formed a cordon to separate the families of Mr McDaid and McAfee who sat just feet apart in the small courtroom.

Dressed in a short-sleeved white shirt and blue tie, McAfee looked towards the McDaid family as the five charges were read to him. He then turned to his family and winked.

A police officer told the court he believed he could connect McAfee with the charges. Objecting to bail he said he was concerned about potential intimidation of witnesses. The officer revealed that since the May 24 murder, 24 people, including a number of witnesses, have been intimidated on both the nationalist and loyalist sides.

He said that the investigation centred on CCTV, forensic, and eyewitness evidence.

The McDaid family laughed in court and were ordered to remain silent by the district judge as McAfee’s solicitor said he was a good candidate for bail and that he had proven in the past that he could abide by bail conditions.

District Judge Des Perry, however, remanded McAfee in custody saying he was not satisfied that he was a suitable candidate for bail. As McAfee was led handcuffed from the dock members of the McDaid family shouted out “cheerio” and “have a nice time” before they were ushered out of the side door of the courtroom by security staff.

McAfee will appear back before the courts via videolink next month.

He is the 11th person to be charged in connection with the night of violence in The Heights area of Coleraine earlier this year when a loyalist mob went on the rampage after Rangers won the Scottish League title.

Mr McDaid, a father of four, died after being beaten by the thugs. His wife Evelyn was also attacked.

Mr McDaid’s neighbour Damien Fleming was left in a critical condition in hospital after he was also kicked and beaten by the gang.

Tensions still remain high in the Heights area after loyalist death threats were issued to Mr McDaid’s wife and their son Ryan, as well as to members of Mr Fleming’s family. Threats have also been issued to one of the key witnesses in the case.

From The Belfast Telegraph