Northern Ireland news

Pair charged with east Belfast murder of Mark Ponisi

Mark Ponisi, who died in an East Belfast flat on Saturday

A MAN and woman jointly charged with a murder in east Belfast were allegedly planning to leave Northern Ireland, a court has heard.

Patrick Crymble (25) and Samantha Brown (26) tried to borrow money for their departure after the death of Mark Ponisi, police claimed.

Mr Ponisi's body was found in the living room of a flat on London Road, off the Ravenhill Avenue, on Saturday morning.

The 53-year-old victim appeared to have sustained injuries to his head and face.

Crymble, of no fixed abode, and Brown, with an address at London Road, appeared at Belfast Magistrates' Court charged with his murder.

Dressed in a grey sweatshirt and standing arms folded, Crymble spoke only to confirm he understood the allegations against him.

He did not seek bail and was remanded in custody until February 20.

Opposing Brown's bid to be released from custody, a detective inspector claimed she may fail to surrender.

"I believe the defendant planned to leave the county following this incident with the co-accused," he said.

District Judge Fiona Bagnall was told another person provided the information to police.

"They actually asked to borrow some money from the independent witness for that purpose," the detective added.

Defence solicitor Martin McLaughlin challenged the sums said to be involved.

"I understand it was £7, you wouldn't get too far on £7," he responded.

Objections to bail were also based on claims Brown has a background of "violence and making allegations".

Although no details of the events surrounding Mr Ponisi's death were disclosed, the detective said: "That is what has really started this incident."

He also told the court she is expected to be evicted from her accommodation due to the incident.

Mr McLaughlin countered that another family address would be available to her.

He described Brown as a vulnerable adult who faces a lengthy period behind bars if bail was denied.

But refusing the application, the judge backed police concerns.

"Clearly there has been some plan in her mind to leave the country," Mrs Bagnall said.

"She is vulnerable and I'm not satisfied the address is appropriate."

Brown was remanded in custody to appear again by video-link on the same date as Crymble. ends

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