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Murder accused claims he acted in self-defence

Published 13/10/2016

Richard Dalzell appeared before a district judge charged with the murder of Mark Lamont
Richard Dalzell appeared before a district judge charged with the murder of Mark Lamont

An alleged paramilitary accused of murdering a man who forced entry into his girlfriend's house has insisted he acted in self-defence, a court has heard.

Window cleaner Richard Dalzell, 35, appeared before a district judge charged with the murder of 54-year-old Mark Lamont.

Mr Lamont, from Coleraine, died in hospital on Tuesday from the serious head injuries sustained in a fight in the early hours of September 26.

Ballymena Magistrates' Court heard that one witness to the fracas alleges that Dalzell "jumped up and down" on Mr Lamont's head.

A police detective sergeant told the court Mr Lamont was one of three hooded men who allegedly forced their way into Dalzell's girlfriend house in Coleraine while the couple were engaging in sexual relations inside.

The two other men have subsequently been charged with aggravated burglary in relation to the incident.

The episode unfolded hours after Dalzell, from Whinpark Road in Newtownards, had been involved in an altercation in a Coleraine pub.

The police officer, who said he could connect the accused to the charge, said during the episode inside the Forge Bar that Dalzell took off his shirt, started doing press ups and throwing fake punches.

The officer said when Dalzell and his partner walked back to her home, he was reportedly agitated and punched a shop shutter.

The three men who later entered the house on Ballycastle Road fled the scene, but Mr Lamont returned soon afterwards and a fight ensued.

The officer told the court Dalzell, who voluntarily handed himself in to police the following day, had not denied involvement in the incident.

"He said there was a fight and I won," the officer said.

Dalzell, dressed in a plain grey track suit, sat impassively through the remand hearing.

He spoke only at the outset to confirm he understood the charge against him.

The detective said two witnesses have given police an account of the incident on the Ballycastle Road.

He said one claimed the accused kicked and punched Mr Lamont "while he was down" and the other alleged Dalzell "jumped up and down on the deceased's head".

Opposing a bail application, the officer claimed the accused had links to paramilitaries in Newtownards and was also involved in loan sharking, money laundering and the supply of controlled drugs.

He expressed fears he would abscond or interfere with potential witnesses or evidence if freed.

The officer said the shoes Dalzell was wearing on the night had not yet been recovered.

Dalzell's lawyer said his client maintained he was protecting himself.

"This case is ultimately about self-defence," he said.

"This case will come down to whether or not the force used by the defendant in the course of that altercation, whether that was reasonable in the circumstances."

District Judge Peter King refused Dalzell's bail application and remanded him in custody to appear before court in Coleraine, via video-link, on October 31.

Press Association

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