Man accused of murdering 11-month-old baby ‘was in a sham marriage to stay in UK’

A man charged with murdering a baby in Co Armagh is suspected of taking part in a sham marriage to stay in the United Kingdom, the High Court has heard.

Hunter McGleenon died after sustaining head and abdominal injuries
Hunter McGleenon died after sustaining head and abdominal injuries

Prosecutors also questioned the legitimacy of Sharyar Ali’s proposed accommodation, claiming it was a flat protected by a steel door where his wife has not been seen for eight months.

Details emerged as the 31-year-old Pakistani national was refused bail on a charge of murdering 11-month-old Hunter McGleenon.

The little boy’s body was discovered on November 26 last year when paramedics were called to a house in Keady.

Examinations established that he had sustained head and abdominal injuries.

Despite being married, Ali, of Westenra Terrace in Monaghan, was also in a relationship with the baby’s mother at the time.

Hunter had been left in his sole care from the previous day while she spent time with her terminally ill grandmother.

The court heard he made a number of trips with the child during that period, including taking him to Monaghan where he runs a mobile phone shop.

Later that evening he brought the boy back to Keady to say goodnight to his mother, with no concerns raised at that stage.

But the following morning, according to Ali’s account, the child rolled off a sofa and banged his head on the ground.

The defendant claimed he found the boy face down on the floor and put him into a cold shower in a bid to revive him.

When Hunter started to move his arms and clench his mouth Ali said he dressed and put him to bed.

Later, he noticed the baby’s lips had turned blue and brought him round to the house where his mother was staying.

His version of events did not explain multiple injuries found on several areas of the child’s body, a Crown lawyer insisted.

Ali told detectives that apparent blunt force trauma injuries to the abdomen were due to attempting CPR on the part of the body rather than the chest.

But the prosecution contended that he provided contradictory explanations as evidence was put to him in police interviews.

It was also disclosed that Ali allegedly made two separate trips on the night before Hunter died.

He was said to have left the child alone in a car for hours while he visited a casino in Castleblayney.

Later, the baby was again left unattended when Ali returned to Monaghan because he was waiting for a delivery.

Ali’s wife and brother both attended court for his bid to be released from custody.

During the hearing it emerged that the accused is facing deportation proceedings in the Republic of Ireland and does not have permission to remain in the UK.

It was suggested he could stay at a flat near Oldham in England leased to his wife.

Opposing those proposals, prosecution counsel submitted: “It’s not believed to be a bona fide marriage, but rather a sham marriage for immigration purposes.”

She also claimed police found no-one present at the flat located above a shop and protected by a steel door.

Ali’s wife had not been seen by the owner of the shop for eight months, the court was told.

Defence barrister Aaron Thompson argued that his client faced only a circumstantial case based entirely on his account of what happened to Hunter while in his care.

“He accepted there was a fear factor in his contacting the mother, and being afraid what that meant for relationships and for him,” counsel added.

Denying bail, Lord Justice McCloskey cited the suspicions about Ali’s involvement in a sham marriage and an immigration history “littered with deceptions”.

The judge stressed: “The big question is not how horrendous the alleged offence is.

“The court cannot have any confidence that the applicant would co-operate with the legal system in the event of being granted bail.”