In what was described as a “highly unusual and unprecedented” move a new leading prosecutor has been granted permission to take over in a murder case, following the resignation of his predecessor.
As a result the Crown Court case against a Belfast man, his wife and brother on charges arising out of the murder of 31-year-old Christopher Mackin five years ago this month, has been adjourned until after the Easter break.
Yesterday Mr Justice Treacy was told that lead prosecutor Terence Mooney QC has pulled out of the case “for professional reasons”.
Frank O’Donoghue QC told the city’s Crown Court that he had been asked by the director of public prosecutions to take over as chief prosecutor in the case against Charles Stephen Valliday, 45, his 40-year-old wife Julie Ann, and Valliday’s 51-year-old brother, James John Valliday.
Applying for the adjournment, Mr O’Donoghue said he had been brought in “completely cold” and would ask the court to allow him “some time” to review the case.
Mr and Mrs Valliday, originally from Powerscourt Place, Belfast, deny the murder of Mr Mackin, also known by the nickname ‘Crickey’. He was shot at least seven times outside his College Square North home, near Belfast’s city centre, on March 1, 2012.
The couple also deny possessing a revolver and ammunition and a £70,000 haul of cocaine and heroin found hidden in an Audi A4 car, allegedly belonging to Mrs Valliday.
Valliday’s elder brother James, from Springfield Meadows, Belfast, denies assisting offenders after the shooting.