Ireland

Two men plead not guilty over song mocking Michaela McAreavey murder

John and Michaela McAreavey during their honeymoon in 2011 (Family handout/PA)
John and Michaela McAreavey during their honeymoon in 2011 (Family handout/PA) John and Michaela McAreavey during their honeymoon in 2011 (Family handout/PA)

Two men being prosecuted in connection with the singing of a song which contained offensive lyrics about the murder of Michaela McAreavey are to contest the charge against them, a court has heard.

A lawyer for a third man facing the same charge indicated he wanted to seek further clarification before entering a plea.

Dillion Kelly, 22, of Edmund Court in Tobermore, Steven Kane, 25, of Coolshinney Heights in Magherafelt, and Cian Jones, 23, of Craigadick Road in Maghera all face a single charge of using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour intending to stir up hatred or likely to stir up hatred.

John and Michaela McAreavey
John and Michaela McAreavey John and Michaela McAreavey during their honeymoon in 2011 (Family handout/PA)

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The accused were not required to appear at Laganside Courthouse in person as the matter was being dealt with by way of summons.

The charges follow a police investigation into footage of singing at an event hosted in a venue in Dundonald, County Down, in May 2022, which was streamed live on social media.

In the four-minute clip, filmed in an Orange Hall, several men are seen singing a song about the death of Mrs McAreavey.

The 27-year-old teacher was strangled in her room at the Legends Hotel in Mauritius on January 10 2011.

Michaela McAreavey funeral
Michaela McAreavey funeral Mrs McAreavey’s father Mickey Harte, left, and widower John McAreavey at her funeral (Niall Carson/PA)

Mrs McAreavey, who had married her husband John 10 days earlier, was attacked after she returned to her room alone and disturbed a burglary.

No-one has been convicted of murdering the daughter of Gaelic football manager Mickey Harte.

The video was widely condemned across the political sphere in Northern Ireland and beyond.

The cases against the three men were mentioned for the first time at Belfast Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.

Lawyers for Kane and Kelly indicated they were entering pleas of not guilty.

A barrister representing Jones asked for some time to take further instructions and clarify an issue with the directing officer.

The case was adjourned until December 13 to set a date for contest in the case of Kane and Kelly and for instructions in the case of Jones.

Seven individuals had originally been reported to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) in Northern Ireland over the incident.

The PPS recommended three prosecutions.

The other four case files were not proceeded with after it was concluded the evidence was not strong enough to support a reasonable prospect of a conviction.