'I moved some rubbish and a torso came into view'... officer tells trial of finding body in bin
A court was yesterday told how a policeman found a murder victim in a wheelie bin full of rubbish.
The constable's statement was read to the jury at the trial in Belfast Crown Court of Stephen Thomas Hughes (29) and Shaunean Boyle (25), who are jointly charged with the murder of 40-year-old Owen Creaney.
They each blame one another for his death.
The court was told that the officer found the wheelie bin at the rear of Hughes's property at Moyraverty Court in Craigavon on Saturday, July 5, 2014.
When he opened the lid, he found the bin "overflowing with cardboard and paper".
After moving some of the rubbish out of the way, he "saw a human foot and a human hand with silver wedding band on one of the fingers".
"I removed more rubbish and a human torso came into view," his statement read. "The body appeared to be compacted in."
The Crown Court heard that the officer's statement was put to Hughes during the course of his interviews at Antrim police station.
When a detective asked him if he squashed the body down on into the bin, Hughes replied: "The two of us did. We just pushed him in."
Asked if he and his co-defendant "forced him down" into the bin, the suspect told the detective that he was "pushing with my two hands".
Asked he had gotten into the bin, Hughes responded: "No. Just pushed him down."
Under further questioning, Hughes said that he helped Boyle dispose of the body because, "I wanted to protect her because I know what it is like to lose your children".
He added: "I just freaked out. I didn't know what to do. I was telling her to phone an ambulance."
The court heard that after police were alerted by a witness that Mr Creaney, known as Fonzie, was dead, officers called at the house and there was a delay in Hughes answering the door.
When he eventually opened it, his hands were covered in magnolia paint.
During his interviews, the defendant said that he was painting over "speckles of blood" from a wall under the downstairs in the hall.
The detective told Hughes: "The smell of bleach was so strong that the police could smell it from outside the front door.
"Were you not at least concerned for your friend Fonzie who was lying upstairs, an alcoholic disabled man?
"You denied him healthcare, you denied him a chance to recover from the injuries he received in the assault. Why was that?" Hughes made no reply.
The detective also asked: "Did you shower the deceased? Did you give him a shower because he was stinking the place out?
"Did you give him a shower because he was smelling the place out because he had wet himself?"
Again, Hughes made no reply to the question.
"What happened here, Stephen?," asked the detective. "Did you just snap? Was something said? Did you just snap and go mad and before you knew it you had done this to Owen? Was that what happened?"
Hughes made no reply.
"Did you do the assaulting? Did you stamp on his face and head? Did you lose your temper?" asked the investigating officer.
Hughes again made no reply.
Earlier, the jury of six women and five men heard that Hughes's Sonia Experia mobile phone was examined by an expert who found that during the 20 hours Hughes told police he had been sleeping, his phone was active with text messages and phone calls.
Two of the text messages were from his co-accused Boyle.
One read, "Is he still alive?" Another said, "Where is Fonzie's phone?"
Asked by the detective if he remembered receiving the text messages, Hughes made no reply.
The officer told the suspect: "There are 57 different things on your phone and you are telling me you were sleeping. What is the truth of the matter?" Again, Hughes made no reply.
Both Hughes - whose address was given as HMP Maghaberry and Boyle, from Edenderry Park, Banbridge, Co Down - were remanded back into custody.
The trial continues