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Rapist and wife murderer fails in second bail bid on charges against current partner


A convicted murderer who stabbed his estranged wife in the neck and raped her as she lay dying in a field, has failed in a second attempt to be released on bail in relation to domestic violence allegations against his current partner.

Anthony Joseph Conlon (52) from Derryane Road, Dungannon, murdered his wife Fiona (28) in 1997 after she left him over his violent rages.

The mother of his two children was reported missing and discovered shortly after, face-down in a stream with her head fully submerged.

Conlon was arrested, insisting while he was banned from contact, they had consensual sex in the field, after which he was knocked unconscious by a knife-wielding masked man.

He later admitted “losing it” but maintained he didn’t mean to kill her nor believed the stab wound was fatal.

On realising she was dead, he claimed to have re-dressed and dragged her lifeless body to the stream.

Convicted of murder in 1998, Conlon was jailed for 16 years, with the judge describing the crime as “most horrendous” and noting the victim “was sexually degraded” as she was dying.

In 2014 Conlon was released on licence and found work with the Helping Hands charity, then met and married his current partner.

Earlier this year appeared in court charged with engaging in abusive behaviour toward his current partner to cause physical or psychological harm between February 21 and June 25.

He is also accused of harassing her between June 25 and July 12 as well as damaging items of her property.

Opposing bail a detective constable explained a referral was received contending the partner had been living in fear for several years due to Conlon’s alleged coercive control.

She claimed to be isolated from her family with Conlon telling her who she could talk to and what to say.

While she terminated the relationship and left their home, it is alleged he “constantly sent texts and left voicemails. She told him to stop but he continued. When she blocked him, he texted other family members and a minister asking them to pass on messages, leaving her feeling harassed and intimidated”.

When arrested, Conlon denied all allegations put to him and referred repeatedly to his wife’s mental health.

He admitted trying to phone her and when she didn’t answer, sent texts because he was worried about her, although did not contact police.

Conlon also admitted leaving a voicemail saying, “Don’t f***ing come back” but denied calling her, “a complete b*****d”.

He insisted he would never put her in fear and denied being controlling.

Bail was refused and it later emerged authorities were considering recalling his licence.

Defence lawyers mounted a further application at the most recent of Dungannon Magistrates’ Court where police continued to oppose.

A detective stated: “The defendant doesn’t know where the victim is residing, but police believe he will try to locate her. He previously offended while on High Court bail for a serious domestic matter against his first wife, whom he arranged to meet and went on to rape and murder. On release from prison, he commenced a relationship with this victim.”

The defence said some time had passed since the case first reached court and argued bail could be granted with strict conditions.

He added an alternative bail address at a Probation Services-run hostel is now available and stressed “mo decision has been made around the potential licence recall”.

But Deputy District Judge Sean O’Hare refused, commenting: “This is a serious case. There would need to be a much more substantive bail package before I could consider release.”

Conlon will appear again by video-link next month.

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