Belfast Telegraph

Killer's son charged with axe murder

The son of a man jailed for the axe killing of another Traveller four years ago is now also charged with the murder, the High Court heard.

Thomas Stokes stands accused of killing John Mongan following new information from a husband and wife, prosecutors revealed.

He is alleged to have been one of four intruders who broke into Mr Mongan's Belfast home on the night he was hacked to death in front of his pregnant wife.

A defence lawyer disclosed that 22-year-old Stokes' father, Edward, is currently serving a life sentence for the February 2008 murder.

Thomas Stokes, of The Old Fort, Derry, was granted bail but electronically tagged and banned from leaving his home city.

Mr Mongan (30) suffered up to 50 wounds in the fatal attack at his Fallswater Street home, some possibly inflicted by a machete.

In December 2009, Derry men Edward Stokes (40), Christopher Stokes (36) and 19-year-old Martin Stokes were found guilty of the murder.

Martin Stokes later successfully appealed the conviction due to conflicting witness descriptions and a sense of unease about the safety of the verdict.

He is currently out on bail awaiting a retrial later this year.

During Thomas Stokes' bail application a judge was told the two new witnesses originally did not co-operate with the investigation.

But recently the husband and wife contacted police to make statements allegedly implicating him in the killing.

The couple, now living outside Northern Ireland, claim the accused was among four people who arrived at their Belfast home on the night of the murder and asked where Mr Mongan lived.

The men left after finding the address through the Autotrader, the court heard.

Philip Henry, prosecuting, claimed an 11-second phone call was made to the couple after the

attack asking: “How is John now?”

He said the caller hung up on being informed the victim was dead.

Further evidence involves allegations from a man on remand for a child killing.

Mr Henry said: “He gave an account of being contacted by a local figure in the criminal underworld and asked to pick up four males in Irvinestown, Fermanagh.” This location was allegedly close to where an Isuzu Trooper SUV suspected of being used by the killers was found burnt out.

Descriptions were given, but not the names of the men allegedly collected, the court was told.

Bail was opposed due to fears of possible interference with witnesses.

Joe Brolly, defending, disputed the level of risk, saying: “We were told these witnesses are not living in this jurisdiction or in the south of Ireland.”

Mr Brolly also attacked the credibility of their new accounts, setting out the different versions they gave to police four years ago.

Lord Justice Coghlin stressed the seriousness of the charge, involving “a brutal murder”.

However, he ruled that Thomas Stokes should be granted bail on two cash sureties of £2,000 each.

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