Co Armagh man to stand trial on murder charge

David Lyness
David Lyness

A CO Armagh man is to stand trial later this year accused of murdering his fiancée in the family home.

David Lyness (51), of Toberhewny Hall, Lurgan, appeared at Belfast Crown today to be arraigned on a single count of murdering Anita Downey on January 20 this year.

Members of Ms Downey’s family were in the public gallery for the proceedings.

When the murder charge was put to Lyness, who was dressed in a grey top and trousers, he replied “not guilty’’.

Defence barrister Andrew Moriarty told judge Mr Justice Colton that he expected the trial would take up to two weeks.

He said that the defence would be calling a number of “professional expert witnesses’’ who would be giving evidence by way of video link.

Mr Moriarty also told the court that his instructing solicitors had been in contact by telephone with Dr Marie Cassidy, who is the State Pathologist for the Republic of Ireland, and “the briefs are going out to her today’’.

Mr Justice Colton listed the trial to start at Belfast Crown Court on December 4, 2017. The case will be mentioned again on October 27 to update the court on the progress of expert reports.

Lyness was remanded back into custody to Maghaberry prison to await his trial.

No details were given in court today (Friday) surrounding the murder charge but in April this during an unsuccessful bail application at Craigavon Magistrates’ Court, it was alleged Lyness had slit his 51-year-old fiancée’s throat.

A detective constable told the court how Lyness’ son made a 999 call, saying “his father had slit his girlfriend’s throat”.

“He had ran from the home because his father had threatened him,” said the detective.

The officer explained to the district judge that the caller also told the operator the couple had been “arguing” and that his father had “pointed the knife at himself and said he was going to kill himself”.

The detective added that when officers arrived at Lyness’ house in Lurgan, Ms Downey was lying in a pool of blood on the floor with “an open wound to her neck”.

When interviewed Lyness claimed the inflicting of the wound “was an accident.”