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Divis murder accused faces psychiatric assessment

By Alan Erwin

Published 10/11/2016

Victim: James Hughes
Victim: James Hughes

A man charged with murdering his neighbour at flats in west Belfast is to undergo psychiatric assessment, a court has heard.

James Devine's lawyer revealed tests are to be carried out on his mental health as he appeared in the dock accused of killing 62-year-old James Hughes. Mr Hughes' body was discovered at the weekend on the 14th floor of Divis Tower where he lived.

Devine (42), with an address in the same apartment block, is understood to have been a friend of the victim.

He appeared before Belfast Magistrates Court yesterday to face a single charge of murdering Mr Hughes on November 5. Bearded and with a black eye, he spoke only once during the brief hearing. Asked if he understood the alleged offence, Devine replied: "Yes."

Relatives of the victim sobbed in the public gallery as the charge was put to him.

A detective sergeant confirmed he could connect the accused to the case against him.

No details were disclosed about the circumstances surrounding Mr Hughes' death.

Defence solicitor Michael Madden confirmed he was not seeking bail for his client at this stage.

He also disclosed that assessments will be carried out to establish if the accused should be transferred to psychiatric hospital accommodation.

At this stage, however, Devine was remanded into prison custody to appear again by video-link on December 7.

District Judge Fiona Bagnall added: "If he's in a hospital setting, obviously he is excused (from attending)."

Belfast Telegraph

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