Eamonn Magee Jr murder: suspect Orhan Koca refused bail
The Turkish man Orhan Koca, charged with the murder of Eamonn Magee Jr, was refused bail on Monday amid fears that he would flee the country.
Appearing at Lisburn Magistrates Court on via videolink from Maghaberry prison, a lawyer for 32-year-old Orhan Koca asked for him to be granted bail, an application "strenuously opposed" by the prosecution and police.
A prosecuting lawyer told the court that on May 30 at 2.38am the police were called to Summerhill Park in west Belfast, where they found Mr Magee lying in the road and bleeding heavily from stab wounds.
“Enquiries quickly established that he had been at the home of his girlfriend Miss Courtney Ward and at 2am they ordered a pizza,” explained the Prosecution.
“Shortly after 2.30am Mr Magee left the house by the rear exit and his girlfriend then heard screaming outside. When she left the house she saw two men standing over Mr Magee trying to help him.
The lawyer outlined how Miss Ward was the estranged partner of the defendant and that she had commenced a relationship with the victim.
“The defendant had been stalking her, mainly via social media, and advising her to stop seeing her boyfriend,” continued the Prosecution.
Koca was interviewed by the police on seventeen occasions following his arrest and repeatedly denied murdering Mr Magee.
The court also heard that jeans, covered in Mr Magee’s blood, had been recovered from Beckett’s Bar, where the defendant both worked and stayed, and that the jeans were found close to items of clothing belonging to Koca.
Detective Constable McComb from the Serious Crime Branch told the court the police would be strongly opposing the bail application.
He confirmed a number of searches had been carried out and that a knife had been recovered however tests had yet to be carried out in order to ascertain whether or not it was the murder weapon.
Detective Constable McComb said he was concerned about interference with witnesses if the defendant was released on bail.
“This was an unprovoked and vicious attack,” he told the court adding “It is not known what his intention would have been if his estranged partner had come out of the house that night.
“There is a fear of interference with witnesses. The defendant is aware of several Crown witnesses. If he is released on bail the opportunity to interfere with evidence would be very real and present.”
Mr McComb said the police were also concerned about the defendant absconding from the jurisdiction.
“There is the risk of absconding from justice,” he continued. “The defence have provided an address in London as a possible bail address but we would oppose any address outside the jurisdiction.
“Given the seriousness of the offence and the likelihood if convicted that he would be serving a significant sentence, this would increase the chance of absconding.
“In recent months several thousand pounds has gone through the defendant’s account. This access to funds would give him the means to flee justice.”
Questions were also raised in court about the defendant’s date of birth, with the suggestion being made that a false date was given on his passport as a way of evading National Service in his home country.
It was also revealed that he has recently been refused a working visa to stay in the UK and was currently appealing that decision.
Koca's defence solicitor stressed that the defendant had no criminal record in the UK and that he had never been spoken to by the police in the past.
In addition to the London bail address provided, which was said to be the home of a family relative, the defendant’s family had also provided a surety of £30,000 to be lodged with the Court.
He also reminded the court that the defendant had suffered an assault in prison.
“He is not safe in prison and he would not be safe in the jurisdiction," declared the lawyer.
Defence added: “His three young children are the most important thing in the world to him and he worked two jobs to support them.
“His family have raised a substantial cash surety and he doesn't have a passport to leave the UK.
“This would make this man a suitable candidate for bail.”
However, District Judge Rosie Watters refused the bail application, saying that her “principal concern would be him not turning up for trial."
“The basis for his residency seems to be very tenuous. He is facing very serious charges and the temptation would be not to turn up for trial," said the judge.
The defendant was remanded in custody to reappear before Lisburn Magistrates Court on July 6 via videolink.