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Christopher Meli family marks anniversary of killing as accused returns to court

By Paul Higgins

A teenager accused of the murder of Christopher Meli has been back in court on the first anniversary of the killing for breaching his bail conditions.

Last night, Christopher's parents Vanessa and Christopher joined family and friends in west Belfast to release balloons in his memory.

Earlier, a detective sergeant had told Lisburn Magistrates Court that the 17-year-old murder suspect, who cannot be named because of his age, was arrested when police discovered he wasn't at his bail address at 1.10am on Sunday.

The woman he had been living with told officers "he had moved address" said the detective sergeant, adding that he was also investigating unconfirmed reports the teenager had been "frequenting the Poleglass and Twinbrook" areas from which he is banned.

Along with two other Belfast teenagers - 18-year-old Stephen McCann, from Bearnagh Glen and 18-year-old Lee Smyth, from Colinbrook Gardens - the 17-year-old is accused of the murder of Christopher Meli on December 12 last year.

The body of 20-year-old father-of-one Mr Meli was discovered on a pathway in the Glasvey Close area of Twinbrook after he had been beaten to death.

Police believe up to 20 people were involved in a number of violent incidents that ended in the murder on grassland known as Doc's Lane, in the early hours of Saturday, December, 12. Defence solicitor Paul McCrudden told the court the defendant had only been away from his bail address for one night as a result of a family fall out and that, despite being on bail "with stringent, onerous condition" for a year, there had been no other breaches.

Releasing the 17-year-old on the same conditions as before, District Judge Amanda Brady warned the teenager "let this be a warning to you as to the consequences of breaching your bail".

The judge added: "If you breach you will go to custody and if it happens again the court will give serious consideration to whether you should be on bail or in custody."

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