Two Ballymena men on Friday denied involvement in the sectarian murder of a teenage schoolboy who was beaten to death seven years ago.
Standing in the dock of Antrim Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, both 26-year-old Christopher Francis Kerr and Aaron Cavana Wallace (24) pleaded not guilty to murdering Michael McIlveen on May 8 2006.
The 15-year-old schoolboy, known as “Mickey Bo”, died from brain injuries the day after he and two friends were chased and attacked by a group of Protestant youths in an alleyway in Ballymena in the early hours of 7 May 2006.
Judge Mr Justice Weir told lawyers for the defence and prosecution that the trial, set to last in excess of four weeks, would start on April 8 and had scathing words for Kerr’s Belfast-based solicitors.
The judge revealed they had failed to attend a meeting between all parties in the case to ensure the trial would be ready to run smoothly, adding that by failing to attend they had been “discourteous in the extreme...I will not tolerate it”.
Kerr’s defence lawyer Sean Devine assure the judge the team were “working assiduously” in preparation of the case and that he was “supremely confident” the trial would proceed as planned.
While Kerr, from the Moat Road, was remanded back into custody Wallace, from Carnduff Drive, was released on continuing bail.