Northern Ireland news

Five in court on charges arising from death of father-of-four William McCormick

Murder victim William 'Pat' McCormick

FIVE people appeared in court today on charges arising from the death of William 'Pat' McCormick.

The body of the 55-year old Newtownards man was discovered in a lake in Ballygowan in July 2019.

Lesley Ann Dodds (23) from Mount Vernon Road in Belfast was charged with murdering Mr McCormick on May 30, 2019.

When the charge was put to her at Belfast Crown Court, she replied 'not guilty.'

Her fiance David Gill (28) of no fixed abode was also charged with the same offence.

Appearing via a videolink with Maghaberry, after confirming he could see and hear the court, he also entered a 'not guilty' plea to the murder charge.

Three co-accused were also charged with offences linked to the death of the father-of-four.

William Gill (41) from Terrace View in Warringstown attending the hearing via a videolink with his solicitor's office.

He was charged with, and denied, assisting an offender on May 19, 2019 by impeding an investigation into an arrest.

In addition, Gill denied withholding information regarding the arrest of his brother David Gill on dates between May 19 and June 5, 2019.

Jonathan Richard Leslie Montgomery also appeared via a videolink with his solicitor's office, where he denied two charges of assisting an offender.

From Castle Espie Road in Comber, the 22-year old pleaded 'not guilty' to allowing his garden to be used for the disposal of evidence on a date between May 30 and June 5, 2019, and on June 1, 2019 helping David Gill to replace van tyres.

Montgomery was also charged with, and denied, withholding information between May 30 and June 5, 2019.

Also denying an offence of withholding information on the same dates was Jack Rowden, from Hillmount Cottages in Moneyreagh.

The 21-year old, currently in Maghaberry, denied this offences and two charges of perverting the course of justice.

Via videolink, he entered 'not guilty' pleas to sending a text message to a co-accused on July 5, 2019 saying 'Don't go to the yard' in the belief that police were present at the premises and he might be arrested or questioned, and also contacting a female on August 7, 2019 regarding her stated intention to report her bin was missing to the police.

After all five defendants denied all the charges levelled against them, a defence barrister for a sixth co-accused asked that his case be adjourned for a legal application.

Mr Justice O'Hara granted this request, then asked Crown barrister David McDowell QC how long he expected the trial would last.

Mr McDowell replied by saying that given there were six defendant, he anticipated the hearing could last up to six weeks.

The Judge set the trial date for February 14 next year but said he would review the case in November.

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