Christopher Mackin murder: Belfast man, wife and brother on trial
A Belfast man, his wife and brother, have gone on trial at the city's Crown Court on charges arising out of the murder of 31-year-old Christopher Mackin nearly five years ago.
Mr Mackin, also known by the nick name "Crickey" was shot at least seven time outside his College Square North home, near Belfast's city centre on March 1, 2012.
Denying his murder are Charles Stephen Valliday (45), his 40-year-old wife Julie Ann, both now with addresses in Islay Street, Antrim. Valliday's 51-year-old brother, James John Valliday from Springfield Meadows, Belfast, is accused with, but denies assisting offenders after the shooting.
Valliday and his wife, formally of Powerscourt Place, Belfast, also deny possessing a Smith and Wesson revolver and ammunition and a £70,000 haul of cocaine and heroin drugs later found hidden in an Audi A4 car, said to belong to Mrs Valliday. Her husband's DNA was later found on the revolver and on bags containing the Class A drugs.
Prosecution QC Terence Mooney told trial judge Mr Justice Treacy and the jury of seven women and five men it was the Crown case that Julie Ann Valliday drove her husband Charles in a Renault Clio to the scene "with the knowledge he was to shoot Christopher Mackin".
"The Crown case is that Julie Ann Valliday and Charles Valliday murdered Christopher Mackin. There can be no doubt but that the intention of the gunman was to kill Mackin," said Mr Mooney.
Mr Mooney added that the Renault car was later abandoned in Wyndham Street in the Oldpark area of north Belfast, where, sometime before midnight it was doused with petrol, allegedly bought by James Valliday, and set on fire in an effort to destroy evidence.
The court also heard that a total of 15 shots were fired at Mr Mackin, possibly from a self-loading pistol, which was never recovered. The prosecution claim that Mrs Valliday, wearing a distinctive black and white housecoat throughout, later disposed of that gun.
A post-mortem revealed Mr Mackin was hit by at least seven bullets causing wounds to the abdomen and his left thigh. One bullet had caused "catastrophic injuries to his inner vital organs, including his aorta, right kidney and liver", and was probably the fatal wound which resulted in his rapid death.
Mr Mooney said that witnesses, left with "snap shots" of what had taken place given the suddenness of the attack, described seeing Mr Mackin in a distinctive white T-shirt, looking anxious, or panicky, to even 'stressed out". As he talked on his mobile phone, they heard "the sound of gunfire" which one witness described as "sharp loud cracking sounds".
However, the prosecution lawyer claimed the dead man left even more by way of evidence, his mobile phone, "a most important piece of evidence in his case .... evidence which speak almost from his grave", as it contained evidence of "mobile contact" between Mr Mackin and Julie Ann Valliday "during the day and up to the time of the murder".
Mr Mooney went even further, claiming that Julie Ann Valliday had lied to Mr Mackin, in text messages, that she was alone and wanting to buy drugs, "tabs" from him as it was "clear from the tenor of those texts" that Mr Mackin, who had "a gut feeling" was "increasingly anxious" about any meeting with her husband.
The lawyer further alleged that Julie Ann tried to assure Mr Mackin that Charles Valliday "was out of the picture", so that he would keep their appointment.
In the wake of the shooting police launched a major investigation, part of which involved gathering CCTV images from a number of locations around Belfast, allegedly enabling them to show the journeys of "certain vehicles associated with the Valliday's".
The CCTV provided, what the prosecution claimed was, "a vivid picture" both of the personalities involved in the case, and of vehicles and their movements. This included the journey taken by the Renault Clio from the Ormeau area of Belfast, to the scene of the shooting and then on to the Oldpark in north of the city where it was abandoned and torched.
In his opening the lawyer said the evidence would be "clear, cogent and persuasive to the extent" the jury would be satisfied of the guilt of the accused, whom he claimed later "lied" to police following their arrests.
However, Mr Mooney said that the "the prosecution case depends to a very large extent on circumstantial evidence rather than direct evidence", but told the jury, "do not think it is of any less strength than direct evidence".
He was, he said, giving them "the skeleton on which you can build the muscle and skin" ... and that once presented, the evidence would point only in one direction, and with an "irresistible conclusion" as to the guilt of the accused.