Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

Teen who killed grandad denied bail over ‘assault on trial witness’

Eamonn Coyle
Francis O’Neill

A teenage killer accused of punching a witness who gave evidence against him in a murder trial remains in custody after a bail application was refused.

Eamonn Coyle was sentenced to a year in prison last month after pleading guilty to the manslaughter of his partially blind grandfather Francis O’Neill.

Coyle (18), who is formerly of Holmview Terrace in Omagh, initially stood trial for murder but the case collapsed.

He appeared by video link at Strabane Magistrates Court yesterday charged with assault, criminal damage and making threats against a witness in the murder trial.

In court the Prosecution Service alleged that while on bail on September 29, Coyle had been attending a training course in the Ballycolman area of Strabane.

Shortly after leaving the training centre Coyle spotted a male he recognised as having acted as a witness against him in the murder case.

He began shouting at the man, calling him a “tout” before approaching him and thumping him several times to the head, the court heard.

The injured man's glasses were broken during the altercation, the court was told.

After being arrested, Coyle admitted the assault and criminal damage to the police but claimed it had nothing to do with the previous case.

It emerged in court yesterday that Coyle and the injured party had been at school together and that there had never been any animosity between them.

A bail application lodged by defence solicitor Patrick Fahy was strongly opposed by the PSNI and the prosecution, who both voiced concerns that the defendant could interfere further with witnesses and argued that he had already shown a propensity to violence.

They added they felt there were no conditions available that would make Coyle a suitable candidate for bail.

Mr Fahy argued that there were appropriate bail conditions at the court's disposal, claiming his client had been on bail on the charge of murder from February until September this year and had not stepped outside the confines of the law.

The solicitor said it showed quite clearly that his client was capable and willing to adhere to any bail conditions imposed.

However, district judge Rosalie Prytherc said she was satisfied that there was a risk of reoffending and that suitable conditions did not exist whereby the accused could be released.

Coyle was remanded in custody to reappear again on December 16.

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