Coleraine murder accused told police: ‘We had a fight, he lost’

Richard Dalzell has denied murder, saying he acted in self-defence

Richard Dalzell has denied murder, saying he acted in self-defence

A window cleaner charged with murdering a man in Coleraine had been disturbed earlier by his alleged victim while having sex, the High Court has heard.

Prosecutors claimed Richard Dalzell launched a fatal attack after Mark Lamont returned to a house on the town’s Ballycastle Road for a second time.

A neighbour reported seeing 54-year-old Mr Lamont’s head being jumped on during a street fight in the early hours of September 26. The Coleraine man died in hospital on October 11.

Details emerged as Dalzell, 35, of Whinpark Road in Newtownards was granted bail on “draconian” conditions which include being banned from the entire Causeway Coast and Glens area.

The accused denies murder, insisting he acted in self-defence.

He had spent the day leading up to the alleged attack drinking with a woman at the Forge Bar in Coleraine.

Prosecution counsel Conor Maguire said they left following a verbal altercation with three men, who included Mr Lamont and an ex-partner of the woman.

Dalzell was punching shop shutters in an agitated state as they went back to her Ballycastle Road home, the court heard.

It was claimed that shortly after they arrived back three hooded men, one of whom was the deceased, entered the property without invitation.

“They discovered this applicant and (the woman) having sexual intercourse on the kitchen table,” Mr Maguire said.

All three men exited following a minor physical and verbal confrontation with Dalzell, the court heard.

But according to the prosecution Mr Lamont was subjected to a serious assault when he returned to the house.

In statements to police the woman alleged Dalzell punched him to the ground outside and then delivered a kick as he lay on the footpath.

Another witness told of seeing a well-built man jumping on Mr Lamont’s head.

“She described this male as putting a lot of effort into this so he could really hurt Mr Lamont,” Mr Maguire said.

The neighbour, who rang for an ambulance, went out and discovered the victim on the ground making a “snoring” sound with blood coming from his head, the court was told.

Forensic tests showed footwear marks on the dead man’s head and clothing.

Dalzell was said to have fled the scene in his Audi convertible, allegedly telling the woman: “This is down to you, this is your fault.”

According to Mr Maguire police had to abandon an attempted high-speed pursuit due to public safety concerns.

Later the same day Dalzell was arrested after attending a PSNI station.

During interviews he admitted punching and wrestling with Mr Lamont, but could not recall any stamping.

Mrs Justice Keegan was told the accused described it as a fight where “you do these things in the heat of the moment”.

Dalzell also stated: “He was breathing and trying to get up, I was doing what I was doing to keep him down.

“I won, I got the better of him. We had a fight, he lost.”

He claimed to have then driven home in panic.

Opposing bail, Mr Maguire contended that Dalzell could have got rid of valuable evidence before handing himself in to police.

Phones were allegedly disposed of, while shoes worn by the accused at the time of the incident have not been recovered.

Mark Farrell, defending, revealed that a second autopsy has found no footwear marks on the deceased’s head or face.

He also claimed conflicting witness accounts posed a problem for the prosecution.

Mr Farrell insisted his client gave police a full and frank account of acting in self-defence.

The barrister described Dalzell as a family man whose partner has forgiven the “indiscretion” of his actions in the other woman’s house.

Claiming the accused had shown restraint on the night, he continued: “They go back there, they have sex in the kitchen ... and their privacy was fundamentally invaded by the three masked men who we know are the three men in the bar earlier, including the deceased.”

Mr Farrell alleged that Dalzell was threatened and told he would be “cut up” during the incident.

Granting bail, Mrs Justice Keegan ordered the accused to put up a £2,000 cash surety, surrender his passport and abide by a curfew and electronic monitoring.

Banning him from contacting any witnesses or entering the entire Causeway area, she said: “I appreciate these are extremely draconian conditions, but that reflects the nature of this case.”