A 26-year-old man who is currently on remand on a murder charge was refused bail after police expressed fears that he may try and interfere with witnesses.
Louis Kieran Maguire is accused of murdering north Belfast man Eamonn Ferguson, whose body was discovered in Maguire’s flat at Ardoyne Place in the early hours of March 15. Maguire has denied murder.
Members of the 35-year-old victim’s family sat in the public gallery of Belfast Magistrates’ Court, where they heard a PSNI detective constable strongly object to Maguire being released on bail.
The officer told the court the objections were on the grounds that Maguire would commit further offences, and there was a likelihood he would try and interfere with witnesses.
He spoke of “a lot of witnesses in this case”, some of whom are street drinkers and have not yet been spoken to by the police.
He also expressed concerns that given the seriousness of the charge against Maguire – which would attract a lengthy custodial sentence should he be found guilty – there was a chance he would not appear in court for his trial.
During the bail application, the officer said that when arrested and during police interview, Maguire was abusive to police, prompting him to tell the court: “We believe he had no regard for authority.”
In addition, the officer also expressed concerns about a coat which police investigating the murder believe Maguire was wearing. Telling the court the coat was still missing, the officer said that, if released, Maguire may locate the “evidence”.
When questioned by Maguire’s lawyer about the incident, the police officer confirmed that Maguire had given an account of his movements and that he denied murdering Mr Ferguson.
A defence lawyer told magistrate Fiona Bagnall that his client has been in custody for four months, that he denied the charge and that he was “entitled to reply on the presumption of innocence”.
The lawyer told the court that given the area where the murder occurred, if Maguire did try and interfere with witnesses “it would become very clear to the people in the community and, no doubt, the police”. He added that Maguire would be willing to adhere to stringent bail conditions.
Mrs Bagnall refused to grant Maguire bail, on the grounds of a likelihood of reoffending. After telling Maguire’s lawyer that her client had the right to apply for High Court bail, Maguire shouted “what about the rights of innocents?”. He was remanded back in to custody and will appear before the same court, via video link, on August 20.