Killer to face murder trial over 'body in the boot' stabbing victim
A man who admits his role in the killing of a father-of-one who was stabbed to death has been ordered to stand trial for his murder.
Appearing in the dock of Newtownards Magistrates Court, 26-year-old Wesley Harry Vance confirmed that he was aware of the single charge against him and that he was not objecting to the preliminary inquiry.
Vance, from Church Gate Studios in Comber, is charged with the murder of Kyle Neil (23), whose body was found in the boot of a car in south Belfast on April 12.
Mr Neil, who was from the Ballysillan area of north Belfast, was stabbed to death in a frenzied knife attack at a party on Mill Street in Comber, and previous courts have heard that while Vance admits his part in the killing, he told police he was acting in self-defence. It has also been reported that having been stabbed at the party, Mr Neil's body was bundled into the boot of a car and driven to Belfast.
Alongside Vance in the dock was his girlfriend, 25-year-old Stephanie Todd, who is accused of assisting an offender in that knowing or believing Mr Neil had been murdered, she allegedly drove Vance and the body of his alleged victim "away from the scene" in order to impede Vance's "apprehension, arrest or prosecution". Todd, from Russell Court, Claremont Street, Belfast, had initially been charged with drink-driving, but that allegation has been dropped by the prosecution.
Last week the court heard there were more than 3,000 pages on the PPS file and yesterday a prosecuting lawyer submitted that, based on those papers, there was a prima facie case against the couple, a submission that defence lawyers Conor Holmes and Denis Maloney took no issue with.
Deputy District Judge Sean O'Hare returned the couple to Downpatrick Crown Court for trial and ordered them to appear there on August 28 for their arraignment.
Vance and Todd made no comment. On behalf of Vance, Mr Maloney applied for his legal aid to be extended to allow a senior QC to be instructed in the case given the seriousness of the charge, an application granted by Judge O'Hare.
Mr Maloney has previously told the court that Vance admitted his part in the killing but claimed he had acted in fear of his life. The court also heard that Todd was arrested for breaching her bail on Wednesday night when her mother contacted police over fears that she would self-harm.
A constable told the court that when officers arrived at her mother's house at 9pm, Todd was "highly intoxicated".
Releasing Todd on her own bail of £250 with two sureties of £1,000 each, Judge O'Hare also ordered her to comply with any directions from her GP and community psychiatric nurse, and warned her that if there were any further breaches "it is unlikely that you will get another opportunity".