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Odhrán Kelly: Lurgan murder accused denied bail due to ‘violent history’

'Odhrán Kelly was murdered in the early hours of the 3rd of December, what we believe, in a prolonged violent assault using weapons which inflicted fatal injuries causing his death'

Odhran Kelly Lurgan
Odhrán Kelly

One of the men accused of the murder of Odhrán Kelly in Lurgan last year has been refused bail.

Shane Harte (31), of Headington House, Lurgan, appeared before Craigavon Magistrates’ Court on Friday (February 2) via videolink from Maghaberry.

He is charged with murdering Mr Kelly, who was found near a burnt out car in the Edward Street area of the Co Armagh town on December 3, last year.

There are five people in total charged in connection with Mr Kelly’s murder: Gary Scullion is also charged with murder, while Andrea Stevenson and Stephanie McClelland are charged with assisting an offender.

Crystal Redden is charged with perverting the course of justice by making a false statement.

Appearing in court on Friday morning, a police detective sergeant said officers had visited a block of flats on Edward Street upon making enquiries around the last registered owner of the burnt out vehicle.

Police noticed blood at one of the flats and forced entry, finding what they described as an “horrific scene” where a “horrific attack had taken place”. There was no one in this address.

In the flat across the hall, linked to the burnt out vehicle, they found three adults and a child. There was also blood in this property and the occupants were arrested on suspicion of murder.

Shane Harte was later arrested on December 6. He was interviewed nine times and gave an account to police; the first of which was proven by police to be wrong as he stated that he had returned to find his mobile phone. Police, however proved, with CCTV evidence, that he in fact was using his mobile phone on this occasion.

The detective sergeant said that Harte had visited the flats on two occasions in the early hours of December 3.

The first occasion was at 12:08am, when he was witnessed entering the property wearing a red puffer jacket. He then exited the property at 12:29.

Odhrán Kelly was then seen entering the flat at 1:14am, approximately half an hour before Shane Harte returned at 1:45am. The CCTV was put to Harte who confirmed that it was he who arrived at that time.

At 3:05am, police believe there was a fight in the flat, with co-accused Andrea Stevenson making a number of calls stating there was a disturbance.

“At this time now, from the CCTV, we believe the victim, Mr Kelly and Shane Harte and Gary Scullion are all in the flat,” the officer said.

Court heard that at 3:21am, Shane Harte and Andrea Stevenson left the flat. Then at 3:45am, Gary Scullion and another female left the flat, with the officer stating: “We believe this is the start of the preparations to remove Mr Kelly from the flat. We believe that he is deceased at this time.

“In the space of Shane Harte leaving at 3:21am and Gary Scullion and the female leaving at 3:45am, which is approximately 24 minutes, that’s when the preparations have started. But we believe the attack took place when Shane Harte was in the flat.”

In interview, Harte denied ever seeing the victim in the flat.

The officer added: “At 4:11am, that’s where we see Mr Kelly being removed from the property by a male and two females who are all now charged in connection with the murder.”

In response to questioning by Harte’s defence barrister, David McKeown, the officer said the forensic report was yet to be completed.

The defence said: “The height of the evidence against Mr Harte is a belief that this attack may have taken place in a very specific time window when Mr Harte may have been in the flat.”

The officer then outlined a number of police objections to bail, arguing the defendant was likely to commit further offences.

“Odhrán Kelly was murdered in the early hours of the 3rd of December, what we believe in a prolonged violent assault using weapons which inflicted fatal injuries causing his death. The victim was also found in a position where he was unable to defend himself or call for help.

“Police firmly believe we can link Shane Harte to the murder of Mr Kelly… The death inflicted on Mr Kelly was extremely violent.

“The circumstances of the case would show that Shane Harte is a dangerous individual.”

The officer also noted that there was a risk of the defendant absconding, stating that he had taken an impromptu trip to Galway the day after Mr Kelly was murdered. Police had been told this was in relation to a medical appointment, which was later ascertained to be untrue.

It was also stated that police have yet to locate the red puffer jacket that Harte was wearing on the night of the murder, believing that Harte had “taken steps to conceal or destroy the clothing”. During the trip to Galway, the defendant had stopped at a shopping centre to procure clothes. Police believe this may have been done to replace the clothing worn the night before.

The officer added that Harte’s phone had been factory reset whilst he was in custody, indicating that he may have instructed someone to do this on his behalf.

Concerns were also raised by police in regards to the proposed bail address for the defendant.

In response to the police objection to bail, David McKeown BL stated that the defendant’s girlfriend is from the Republic of Ireland and that they regularly visit the area, sometimes on short notice.

He added: “This is a case where two others have been granted bail. There is an address proposed as well outside of the Craigavon area. The objections to bail are somewhat unusual.”

District Judge Francis Rafferty opted to refuse the bail application, stating that Harte was “not a suitable candidate for bail on the basis of his well-established history of violence, the risk of flight and his interference with the course of justice, as suggested by the disposal or suggested disposal of clothing and the factory reset of the phone”.

The case is to be heard again in early March.

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