Christopher Meli murder: Teenagers appear in court

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Two teenagers accused of the murder of Christopher Meli have applied for bail, with one successful and the other refused.

While Deputy District Judge Peter Magill granted bail to a 16-year-old boy who cannot be named because of his age, he refused to release 18-year-old Lee Smyth amid fears that he would reoffend.

Smyth, from Colinbrook Gardens in west Belfast, and the teenager are jointly charged with Stephen McCann, 18, from Bearnagh Glen, also in Belfast, in the murder of Mr Meli.

McCann was not in court on Monday.

The body of Mr Meli, a 20-year-old, father-of-one, whose funeral was held on Monday, was discovered on a pathway in the Glasvey Close area of Twinbrook after he had been beaten to death.

Detectives believe up to 20 people were involved in a number of violent incidents that ended in the murder on grassland known as Doc’s Lane in the early hours of Saturday December 12.

The court heard that both Smyth and the 16-year-old handed themselves in to police and had provided names of other people believed to be at the location where the incident took place.

Smyth admitted “being involved in an altercation with the deceased” whom he confessed to “punching a number of times”, but when charged with the killing told officers “I didn’t murder Christopher Meli”.

The 16-year-old at first admitted, but then denied punching Mr Meli.

Both are due back in court on January 18.