Court is told of safety fears for murder accused
A defence lawyer for a man charged with murder has told a court there are genuine concerns for his client's safety.
Liam McNally was speaking at Coleraine Magistrates' Court, where Richard Dalzell (36), a window cleaner from Whinpark Road in Newtownards, appeared for his latest hearing.
The defendant is currently on bail in connection with the murder of Mark Lamont (54) in Coleraine on September 26 this year.
The accused was present in court to hear a prosecutor request extra time to deal with the case on the grounds that a full file relating to the incident was still outstanding.
Dalzell had already left the courtroom when his defence lawyer asked District Judge Liam McNally if his client could be excused from attending his next scheduled appearance in February because of "genuine concerns for his safety".
The lawyer said police had raised security fears after the defendant's previous court appearance in Coleraine on October 31. Additional PSNI officers attended court on that occasion to deal with a number of incidents.
Judge McNally said he could only consider such a request with the defendant present in the courtroom.
Staff were asked to see if Dalzell was still close by, but they learned he had already left the building.
At the defendant's previous appearance in October, there were tense scenes in court and outside after a number of remarks were shouted at him.
Although Dalzell is banned from entering Coleraine as part of bail conditions, he was allowed to return to the town for the hearing, where his case was further adjourned.
During that appearance, a large number of police officers were present in the court waiting room area and in the courtroom when the defendant appeared.
Members of the deceased's family were present for the hearing, and as Dalzell was released on continuing bail, one family member followed him outside and shouted remarks at him.
The man was subsequently surrounded by 10 police officers, who ordered him to stay where he was until Dalzell, who was accompanied by another man, left the area.
There were similar scenes at Ballymena Magistrates' Court when the accused first appeared in on the murder charge.
Mark Lamont, a father-of-three and a grandfather, died on October 11 following an incident at Ballycastle Road in Coleraine on September 26.
The defendant has previously denied murder, insisting he acted in self-defence.
In the latest hearing, Dalzell was released on bail with stringent conditions, including a ban on him entering the Causeway coast and Glens area.
Mrs Justice Keegan ordered the defendant to put up a £2,000 cash surety, surrender his passport and abide by a curfew and electronic monitoring.
Banning the accused from contacting any witnesses or entering the Causeway coast area, she said: "I appreciate these are extremely draconian conditions, but that reflects the nature of this case."