Men face trial for 'joyride' crash deaths of two friends
Four alleged joyriders have been sent to the Crown Court to face trial for charges of stealing a car and killing two friends.
Standing in the dock of Lisburn Magistrates Court yesterday, the four accused, all from west Belfast, exchanged smiles and handshakes but were repeatedly ordered by the judge to "just be quiet for goodness sake".
They are 23-year-old Mark Smith, Kevin Valliday (26), Mark Toner (30), and Francis Lavery (28).
All four are charged with stealing a powerful Subaru Impreza car which killed their friends – Conor Rules (23) and Patrick McAllister (24) – on June 28, 2010, when the car ploughed through a hedge and into a field on the Leathemstown Road in Dundrod before bursting into flames.
The car had been stolen from Maralin Avenue in Lisburn shortly before the fatal crash. As well as killing Mr Rules and Mr McAllister, the collision also seriously injured the four others in the car. Emergency services arriving at the scene saw all six had suffered horrific injuries after being thrown from the vehicle on impact. The mangled wreckage of the car was found in a field.
All six were taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital, three in a critical condition, and Mr Rules and Mr McAllister died later. Rules was from the Knockcairn Lodge area of Dundrod, while his friend McAllister was from Glasvey Close in Twinbrook.
Shocked friends posted messages of sympathy on the social network site Bebo in memory of Mr Rules.
"You're with the angels now and you're not alone," one message read. "Rest in peace, Conor. You'll be sorely missed," another read.
Yesterday, a prosecution lawyer submitted there was a prima facie case against the four men and none of their solicitors made any contrary claims.
Asked if they wished to give evidence themselves or call any witnesses on their own behalf, each man declined and said "no".
Their solicitors asked for senior QCs to be appointed to the case given what was described as the "extremely unique issues".
However, District Judge Rosemary Watters said it was her view that decision is "best made by the Crown Court judge".
Smith, from Broom Park in Dunmurry; Valliday, from the Cullingtree Road; Toner, from Slibh Dubh View, and Lavery, from the Stewartstown Road, were all released on their own bail of £500 and ordered to appear at Craigavon Crown Court for arraignment on November 28.