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Barman remanded over boxer's murder

Published 02/06/2015

Eamonn Magee Jnr died in a knife attack in West Belfast (PSNI/PA Wire)
Eamonn Magee Jnr died in a knife attack in West Belfast (PSNI/PA Wire)

A Turkish barman has been remanded in custody charged with murdering the son of a former boxing champion.

There were angry scenes as Orhan Koca appeared at Craigavon Magistrates' Court.

Eamonn Magee Jnr, 22, was stabbed to death as he went to check on a pizza delivery in the early hours of Saturday morning.

His father Eamonn Magee Snr, a former WBU welterweight title holder, who was in court supported by a large crowd of friends, launched a foul-mouthed tirade towards the defendant.

Koca, 32, a father of three with no fixed abode, spoke to confirm his name and that he understood the murder charge against him.

He also answered loudly and clearly "Yes" when asked by the court clerk to confirm his identity.

Dressed in a grey tracksuit and with closely-cropped dark hair, he sat in the dock with his arms folded flanked by two prison guards. At times, he looked towards Mr Magee Snr just a few metres away in the public gallery.

A number of public order police officers lined the inside of the small court.

Ahead of opening the case, District Judge Des Perry warned he would clear the room if the hearing was disturbed.

He said: "If proceedings are disrupted in any way, I understand this is a very, very emotional situation, I will have no hesitation in clearing the court."

Defence solicitor Eamon O'Connor said Koca, who has lived in Northern Ireland for two and a half years, had consistently denied the murder charge from the moment of his arrest and throughout 19 police interviews.

Mr O'Connor said: "There is a full acknowledgement that this was a truly horrific crime. To have a child taken away in such brutal circumstances is the worst thing that can happen to a parent."

The court was told that Koca would be applying for bail in four weeks time.

His lawyer said he was confident conditions including the provision of an address outside Belfast and the surrender of his passport, which was with the Home Office in Liverpool, could be met.

"This is a young man with three young children in the jurisdiction. He loves them and will never travel away from them," Mr O'Connor added.

The lawyer later said: "It is fully accepted this is a most serious criminal offence."

However, a prosecutor said bail would be opposed in all circumstances.

Police Service of Northern Ireland Detective Inspector Darren McCartney said the suspected murder weapon had been found and had been sent for forensic tests. Police are also awaiting DNA results from a number of other items, he said.

Remanding Koca into custody the judge appealed for the forensics lab to deal with the high profile case expeditiously.

He said: "I am remanding you to appear in Lisburn via videolink on June 29."

Judge Perry also ordered a Turkish interpreter to attend the next court hearing.

He said: "The court will want to ensure a belt and braces approach to ensure that if there are any issues they can be dealt with."

Mr Magee followed his father into the boxing ring and had a promising professional career ahead of him. He was also studying engineering at university.

Police believe his killer lay in wait while he visited a friend's house in the Summerhill Park area of West Belfast on Saturday.

Despite efforts of nearby residents he died from his injuries in hospital a short time after the attack.

The case was adjourned until June 29.

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