Northern Ireland

Case against man accused of Natalie McNally murder will not be heard before Christmas

Natalie McNally was murdered at Silverwood Green in Lurgan on December 18 last year
Natalie McNally was murdered at Silverwood Green in Lurgan on December 18 last year Natalie McNally was murdered at Silverwood Green in Lurgan on December 18 last year

The case against the man charged with the murder of Natalie McNally will not be sent to the Crown Court before Christmas, a judge has heard.

A Preliminary Enquiry had been scheduled for December 1, which would have seen the case against Stephen McCullagh (33) elevated to the Crown Court, but a prosecuting lawyer told District Judge Bernie Kelly “that’s not realistic”.

“There’s a huge amount of information to go through, specifically in relation to telecom packages,” she told Craigavon Magistrates Court on Friday.

"There are a lot of exhibits which have queries and that will take some time to be received.”

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Applying for the PE to be downgraded to a mention on December 1, the lawyer added that the PPS directing officer is “not even sure if they will be in a position to fix a PE date because of the volume of information".

McCullagh, from Woodland Gardens in Lisburn, remains in custody accused of the murder of 32-year-old mum-to-be Natalie McNally on December 18 last year.

Ms McNally was 15 weeks pregnant when she was stabbed in her home on Silverwood Green in Lurgan.

In court on Friday, DJ Kelly told the PPS “someone is going to have to get time scales - you cannot sit and leave this waiting in abeyance".

Defence solicitor Keith Farrell said the adjournment “doesn’t come as a surprise but a full update would be appreciated”.

Although the PPS had asked for the case to be adjourned for a month, DJ Kelly said however that she would put the case back for two weeks for the officer in charge to attend “so that we can work out a timetable".