Husband and wife on trial for Belfast murder

Court

Court

A Belfast man, his wife and brother, have gone on trial at the city’s Crown Court on charges arising out of the murder of 31-year-old Christopher Mackin nearly five years ago.

Mr Mackin, also known by the nickname ‘Crickey’, was shot at least seven times outside his College Square North home, near Belfast city centre on March 1, 2012.

Denying his murder are Charles Stephen Valliday, 45, and his 40-year-old wife Julie Ann, both now with addresses in Islay Street, Antrim.

Valliday’s 51-year-old brother, James John Valliday from Springfield Meadows, Belfast, is accused with, but denies assisting offenders after the shooting.

Valliday and his wife, formally of Powerscourt Place, Belfast, also deny possessing a revolver and ammunition, and a £70,000 haul of cocaine and heroin later found hidden in an Audi A4 car, and said to belong to Mrs Valliday.

Her husband’s DNA was later found on the revolver and on bags containing the class A drugs.

Prosecution QC Terence Mooney told trial judge Mr Justice Treacy and the jury of seven women and five men it was the Crown case that Julie Ann Valliday drove her husband Charles in a Renault Clio to the scene “with the knowledge he was to shoot Christopher Mackin”.

“The Crown case is that Julie Ann Valliday and Charles Valliday murdered Christopher Mackin. There can be no doubt but that the intention of the gunman was to kill Mackin,” said Mr Mooney.

Mr Mooney added that the Renault car was later abandoned in Wyndham Street in the Oldpark area of north Belfast, where, some time before midnight it was doused with petrol, allegedly bought by James Valliday, and set on fire in an effort to destroy evidence.

The court also heard that a total of 15 shots were fired at Mr Mackin, possibly from a self-loading pistol, which was never recovered. The prosecution claim that Mrs Valliday, wearing a distinctive black and white housecoat throughout, later disposed of that gun.

A post-mortem revealed Mr Mackin was hit by at least seven bullets causing wounds to the abdomen and his left thigh. One bullet had caused “catastrophic injuries to his inner vital organs, including his aorta, right kidney and liver”, and was probably the fatal wound which resulted in his rapid death.

The prosecution lawyer claimed the dead man’s mobile phone was “a most important piece of evidence in his case ... evidence which speaks almost from his grave”, as it contained evidence of “mobile contact” between Mr Mackin and Julie Ann Valliday “during the day and up to the time of the murder”.

In the wake of the shooting police launched a major investigation, part of which involved gathering CCTV images from a number of locations around Belfast, allegedly enabling them to show the journeys of “certain vehicles associated with the Vallidays”.

The CCTV provided what the prosecution claimed was “a vivid picture” both of the personalities involved in the case, and of vehicles and their movements.

This included the journey taken by the Renault Clio from the Ormeau area of Belfast, to the scene of the shooting and then on to the Oldpark where it was abandoned and torched.