A 36-year-old man who was charged with the murder of Lurgan girl Laura Marshall has been refused bail.
Gary O’Dowd, from Knocknagore Road, Gilford, was charged with 31-year-old Laura’s murder and appeared before Craigavon Magistrates Court today (Friday).
Wearing a grey tracksuit, he denied the charge of murdering Laura between March 31 and April 2 this year.
Craigavon Magistrates Court was told there was an extensive history of domestic violence between the couple.
The detective sergeant investigating said there were seven recorded instances of domestic abuse the last of which was on 23 March when Miss Marshall called 999 to claim she had been choked, head butted and attacked by the defendant.
The police arrived and Miss Marshall claimed the defendant had threatened to kill her and stab her.
The defendant was subsequently found three days later when he arrived at Miss Marshall’s home and another 999 call was made by the victim. O’Dowd was arrested, charged and part of his bail conditions was not to have contact with Miss Marshall. He was due to appear in court on those charges including threat to kill on April 22.
The detective sergeant told the court there had been around 40 text messages between the pair on March 31 - and the context of the messages were that: “She wanted him back.”
He said it was a sad but typical domestic abuse cycle.
The detective said when police arrived at Laura Marshall’s house on Sunday they found her flat neat and tidy apart from a ‘violent scene’ in the bathroom.
Laura’s body was found in the bath.
He explained that the sink had been ripped from the wall causing a leak which had alerted the landlord of the property to call on Friday April 1.
He also told the court that there was bruising all over her body and that the pathologist Professor Crane said there ‘may be indication of forced sex’.
The detective added that the FMO took a penile swab from O’Dowd and ‘bruising was noted that he could not account for’.
He added that there was a ‘significant amount of blood pool near the sink’ and ‘some in the bath’.
The defendant’s barrister Gavyn Cairns asked the detective if his client had given a detailed account of his movements from Thursday March 31 through to when he was arrested and the detective said he had.
The detective agreed that his family had provided alibis as well as statements from two taxi drivers.
When asked if the police had conducted cellular mast investigations in relation to the defendant’s movements, the detective said that was one aspect of the case.
He also stated that CCTV footage from the apartment block where Miss Marshall lived had been viewed by police and there does not appear to be evidence that O’Dowd entered or left the premises.
He also told the court that police are still awaiting a full forensic report.
Mr Cairns also asked if the police had received a witness statement from the landlord who said he had spoken to the victim on Friday April 1 at 4.30pm and 4.50pm.
The detective told the court the landlord had spoken to someone he believed to be Laura through an intercom and said he recollected that the deceased ‘sounded strange’.
He also agreed with the defence barrister that Laura appeared to want to retract her statement in relation to the last assault allegations.
The detective said the last message sent by Laura Marshall was to O’Dowd on March 31 saying: “Miss you. Keep falling out of your side of the bed. Love you all my life.”
She also indicated that she had spoken to her solicitor about contacting him and that she wanted to talk to the cops about getting his bail lifted.
The detective said Laura had a regular habit of using her phone and after 21.48 hours on March 31 there is no data from her phone.
He agreed that after a high profile media appeal around 50 witnesses so far have come forward however he was unaware of one female witness who claimed she had seen Laura outside Lurgan Police Station on April 1.
O’Dowd’s barrister asked if this witness statement was correct it would ‘be a significant contradiction that she had not left her property from Thursday’.
The detective said the volume of material processed over the last four days ‘has been phenomenal’.
He added that though there had been seven recorded incidents of domestic abuse allegations he felt this was ‘the tip of the iceberg’.
He opposed bail on the grounds that the defendant may interfere with witnesses.
He added that there was a flight risk and objected to the defendant staying at his sister’s home in Banbridge as it was too close to Lurgan.
Judge Mervyn Bates refused bail and the defendant is to appear before Craigavon Magistrates Court via video link on May 6.