Woman changes plea in connection with Comber murder

Pacemaker Press 15/04/2015 
Stephanie Todd pictured with Family and Friends at Newtonards Court on wednesday , she  was freed on bail accused of assisting an alleged killer by driving him and his alleged victim away from the scene.
Wesley Vance appeared on tuesday charged with the murder of Kyle Neil, The 23-year-old father-of-one was found dead in the boot of a car in south Belfast on Sunday after a party in the Church Gate studio apartments in Mill Street, Comber, Co Down on Saturday night.
Pic Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 15/04/2015 Stephanie Todd pictured with Family and Friends at Newtonards Court on wednesday , she was freed on bail accused of assisting an alleged killer by driving him and his alleged victim away from the scene. Wesley Vance appeared on tuesday charged with the murder of Kyle Neil, The 23-year-old father-of-one was found dead in the boot of a car in south Belfast on Sunday after a party in the Church Gate studio apartments in Mill Street, Comber, Co Down on Saturday night. Pic Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker

A 26-year old Belfast woman today admitted obstructing police in connection with the murder of Kyle Neil.

Mr Neil (23) was stabbed to death in a frenzied attack at a house in the Mill Street area of Comber on April 12 last year.

Wesley Harry Vance, formerly of Church Gate Studios in Comber, was due to stand trial alongside co-accused Stephanie Todd at Downpatrick Crown Court on charges arising from last year’s murder.

A jury had been sworn to preside over the murder trial - however despite initially denying a murder charge, 27-year old Vance changed his plea and admitted murdering Mr Neil.

Following the plea, trial judge Mr Justice Colton told him: “Now that you have pleaded guilty to murder, the mandatory sentence that I must impose is one of a life sentence.”

Todd was due to stand trial on two offences arising from Mr Neil’s murder - namely assisting offenders by driving the deceased’s body in the boot of Ford Fiesta from Mill Street in Comber to Windsor Road in Belfast on April 12, and of driving with excess alcohol.

She denied both charges and was due to be tried by a jury, but following legal discussions, a new charge was added to the bill of indictment.

When Todd was charged with obstructing a constable in the execution of his duties on April 12 last year, she replied “guilty.” She was also re-arraigned on the driving with excess alcohol charge, which she also admitted.

Prosecuting barrister Laura Ivers said that in light of the guilty pleas, the Crown was prepared to leave the assisting offenders charge “on the books, not to be proceeded with”.

Mr Justice Colton thanks all those involved for their hard work in bringing a resolution to what he called a “very difficult, tragic and complex case.”

The jury was then dismissed by the Judge, who also released Todd on bail.

She will be sentenced alongside Vance at Belfast Crown Court next month.