Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Man remanded over OAP manslaughter

Paul James Manolito Toland hides his face as he is remanded into custody at Ballymena Magistrates court
Paul James Manolito Toland hides his face as he is remanded into custody at Ballymena Magistrates court
Paul Toland, from Antrim, has been charged with manslaughter after the death of Bertie Acheson, pictured with his wife Sheila

A 39-year-old man has been remanded in custody after being charged with killing a Co Londonderry pensioner.

Paul James Manolito Toland, from The Cedars, Antrim, was charged with manslaughter when he appeared at Ballymena Magistrates' Court. The maintenance engineer, whose wife, Jennifer Toland, has also been charged with manslaughter, has denied killing 72-year-old Bertie Acheson in April.

Mr Toland, a father-of-three. appeared in the dock dressed in a grey top and blue jeans. He spoke only to confirm that he understood the charge against him and stared at the ceiling throughout most of the brief hearing.

District Judge Des Perry rejected a bail application because of the frailty of Mr Acheson's widow, Sheila, who is the principal witness in the case. Judge Perry added: "This was a burglary gone badly wrong."

A PSNI detective constable told the court there was evidence linking Mr Toland to the crime scene. She said his DNA had been found on a brick which was used to smash a window at the pensioner's home. The detective also said there was CCTV footage showing Mr Toland's van in the Antrim and Coleraine area around the time of the killing.

Mr Toland had been arrested on October 31 and was interviewed six times before being released on bail. He returned to Antrim PSNI station for further questioning last night and was charged with manslaughter.

The detective constable opposed bail. She said: "Our concerns are that Mr Toland would interfere with other witnesses namely the wife of the deceased and members of the co-accused's family - he could try to influence." The police officer said there may also be a risk that Mr Toland could dispose of items stolen from the Acheson house that had not yet been recovered by detectives.

Defence solicitor Ferghal McElhatton said the presumption of innocence rested with his client and argued that he should be granted bail. Mr McElhatton added: "Bearing in mind that the co-accused has already been granted bail, there is not a huge disparity between them."

But Judge Perry said he believed there was a big difference between the pair. He said: "There is a huge disparity given that the unfortunate widow refers to a man being in the house, of a scuffle with a man and of a man coming into the bedroom. I am not satisfied that Mr Toland is a candidate for bail."

Earlier, Mrs Toland, 23, appeared before Ballymena Court for a second time. The pregnant mother-of-one was released on continuing bail. She was told not to enter Coleraine, to live at an address approved by police and to return to court in February.

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