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Stephen Barriskill murder: Accused admitted shooting neighbour twice in chest with shotgun

Stephen Barriskill

Portadown man accused of the murder of Stephen Barriskill admitted shooting his neighbour twice in the chest with his shotgun, a court heard today (Friday).

Objecting to the 53-year-old’s release on bail, a detective sergeant told court that having shot and killed Stephen Barriskill on October 26, the defendant handed himself into police the following day and admitted killing his neighbour with his “legally held shotgun.”

Connor Lawrence McNeill, of Whitesides Hill, who is also charged with possession of firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life appeared at Craigavon Magistrates’ on Friday, via videolink from Maghaberry for the purpose of a bail application.

Outlining the facts, a detective sergeant told court that sometime after 10pm on October26, “Mr McNeill entered the home of Mr Barriskill….and at that point had with him his legally held, loaded shotgun.”

“He approached Mr Barriskill about matters that had allegedly occurred previous to these events and during that conversation, Mr McNeill shot him twice in the chest with the shotgun,” he said.

The detective sergeant added “for reasons only he will know,” McNeill went to a friend’s house before he went home.

The following day, McNeill handed himself in to Lurgan police station “and told police what had occurred the night before,” outlined the detective.

He told court that over the course of five interviews, McNeill “accepted that he had entered his home and should not have been there, accepted he had a loaded firearm and accepts that he shot Mr Barriskill twice in the chest.”

The detective described how the men “had been friends for many years, had lived relatively close to each other in the same lane and at some point in the last number of months, they have had a falling out for reasons I’m sure Mr McNeill will explain at a later date.”

He said while McNeill had surrendered himself “prior to police being aware” of the killing, “we do oppose bail” on the grounds that he had gone to the victim’s house, uninvited and with a loaded gun and had left a “grieving family in the middle of this.”

The officer suggested that facing a lengthy sentence if convicted, “there’s a potential that he will fail to surrender” and further that McNeill “could potentially interfere with witnesses” and might have access to “cash and property to facilitate flight from jurisdiction.”

However, District Judge Bernie Kelly commented that McNeill “has admitted, effectively, the offences” and given those admissions, “it’s highly unlikely he can reverse what he has said”.

She added: “In terms of him fleeing, I would need….some factual basis for me to be satisfied there’s a real risk of him leaving….so in short he has what one would consider otherwise than this charge and very unfortunate incident, he has led a model life up to now.”

Defence counsel Joel Lindsay confirmed that McNeill told police “listen, there was a row over a number of years, he said he was living like a rat, he had made threats etc etc” and suggested that he could live with his sister outside of Portadown.

Freeing McNeill on his own bail of £500 with a surety in the same amount, District Judge Kelly ordered McNeill to abide by a curfew, to report to police three times a week and imposed a prohibition on alcohol.

She also ordered McNeill to surrender his firearms certificate within 24 hours of being released from prison and adjourned the case to December 17.

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