Murder case sent to Crown Court

Laurence Shaw.
Laurence Shaw.

Some relatives of Laurence Shaw from Larne wept in court on Thursday as a man accused of his murder had his case sent to the Crown Court.

Jackie Murray McDowell (39), of Laharna Avenue, Larne, is charged with murdering Mr Shaw who died last October.

The body of the 56-year-old was found in a house at Hillmount Gardens in Larne’s Seacourt estate.

A preliminary enquiry - the legal step to send a case to the Crown Court - was held on Thursday in Ballymena Magistrates Court.

It emerged in court that in addition to the murder charge, the defendant - whose address was previously given as Upper Waterloo Road in Larne - faces two new charges.

They are arson of Mr Shaw’s house and intent to pervert the course of justice by setting fire to the house ‘to conceal the murder’.

McDowell leaned on a crutch as he stood in the dock while the three charges he faces were put to him.

Metres away, several relatives of Mr Shaw were in the public gallery and some sobbed as they looked on.

The defendant confirmed he had no objections to the holding of the preliminary enquiry.

A prosecutor submitted there was a case to answer.

Defence barrister Neil Moore had “no contrary submissions”.

District Judge Nigel Broderick said he was “satisfied there is a prima facie case”.

A prosecutor asked for the defendant to be remanded in continuing custody to appear at the Crown Court in Belfast on June 22.

Judge Broderick granted an application for two counsel to act for the accused at the Crown Court.

The defendant was returned to custody ahead of his scheduled Crown Court appearance.