Three youths remanded on Christopher Meli murder charge

Christopher Meli
Christopher Meli

Three teenagers have appeared in court charged with the murder of a father-of-one in west Belfast.

Christopher Meli, 20, was beaten around the head on grassland in the Twinbrook area at the weekend.

Stephen McCann and Lee Smyth, both 18, and a 16-year-old male, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were remanded in custody at Lisburn Magistrates’ Court.

McCann, from Bearnagh Glen in west Belfast, and Smyth, from Colinbrook Gardens in Dunmurry, sat in the dock during the hearing as Mr Meli’s parents watched from the front row of a packed public gallery.

The charged youth sat at the front of the court outside the dock.

There were emotional and at times angry scenes in court as the victim’s parents, Christopher Meli senior and Vanessa Burke, were comforted by friends and family.

Two other males - aged 18 and 17 - continue to be questioned by detectives about the assault in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Police believe up to 20 teenagers were involved in the attack in a grassy area known locally as Doc’s Lane.

Hundreds of people supported Mr Meli’s family at a candlelit vigil in Belfast’s Springfield Road on Monday evening.