A man accused of murdering his uncle allegedly confessed to the killing, a court heard today (Tuesday).
Standing in the dock of Lisburn Magistrates Court, 18-year-old David Ellis and Dean Martin (24) confirmed they understood the single charge they jointly face.
Ellis and Martin, both of no fixed abode, were charged with the murder of Ellis’ uncle Randall Robert Cecil Ellis, also known as ‘Foggy,’ on December 9 this year.
The body of the 49-year-old was discovered in his home at Clounagh Park in Portadown shortly before 10am on Monday, December 9.
Giving evidence to the court today, Detective Sergeant McIntosh said he believed he could connect both men to the killing.
Ellis’ defence solicitor Ruari Gillen told the court he was not applying for bail for his client but solicitor Kevin McCamley, appearing for Martin, said he was applying for his client to be freed, an application which the officer said police objected to.
DS McIntosh revealed that during police questioning, “there’s been a confession in relation to it by Mr David Ellis” but that Martin has denied knowing the victim or being involved in anyway.
Outlining what police had gleaned from their enquires so far, the officer told the court Mr Ellis’ death was not initially treated as a murder investigation until “information came available to police on Friday which changed the whole circumstances,” adding that both men were arrested the following day.
He said police had been able to gather CCTV footage which had captured the two defendants walking towards the victims home just after 5am and other footage which showed them walking away from the property, where Mr Ellis lived alone, at 6.20am.
DS McIntosh revealed that Mr Ellis, who died from a single stab wound to his leg, had tried to make a 999 call at 06.19, adding that witnesses had also come forward which had been “greatly beneficial” to ongoing police inquiries.
In addition, he told the court there is “telecommunication evidence” being examined while an item, “which we believe was the murder weapon,” has been sent for forensic examination.
The court also heard that both men had sustained injuries which police “believe support also that these two men were involved” in what he described as a “horrendous crime”.
Turning to specific objections to Martin being freed, the detective further revealed that he has precious convictions for assault and having a weapon, that given the serious nature of the offences Martin “may face a lengthy custodial sentence” so would be a risk of flight and in addition, witness evidence was put to him during interviews so they should be “afforded protection during the investigation.”
Under cross examination from Mr McCamley, it was put to the officer “there is no forensic evidence to connect him to the scene or the victim,” but DS McIntosh said that as well as the alleged murder weapon being sent to the forensic laboratory, the police were also reviewing a number of other items seized from the victim’s home.
The lawyer submitted there is no “independent evidence that Mr Martin was complicit” but again, the officer said there was cctv footage which captured both men “walking along the Brownstown road,” heading in the direction of Mr Ellis’ home and again, one minute after the victims failed 999 call, “a few hundred yards” away from the murder scene.
The officer agreed that Martin had denied involvement or knowing the victim but he told Mr McCamley that as well as Ellis’ confession, “police strongly believe and have evidence which points that this man was there and was part and parcel of this horrendous crime.”
Mr McCamley submitted “the evidence is anything but strong” and suggested that Martin could be freed “with stringent conditions” such as a curfew and tagging.
Deputy District Judge Bonita Boyd disagreed however, telling the lawyer “it’s the courts view that there’s strong indications and evidence of involvement in this crime.”
Refusing bail, she said “there’s a real substantial risk” of she was further offences, the risk of flight and witness interference.
Both men were remanded into custody to appear at Craigavon Magistrates Court via videolink, on 10 January next year.