Belfast Telegraph

Murder bid suspect's bail varied by two metres so he can step outside for smoke

BY MICHAEL DONNELLY

A MAN accused of trying to kill a work colleague after a Christmas party is to get an extra two metres added to the bail restrictions on where he is allowed to go – so he can have a smoke outside his door.

Coleraine Magistrates Court heard that without the change Andrew Linton risked breaching his curfew every time he stepped outside his house to light up.

Defence lawyer Francis Rafferty said that while 26-year-old Linton wanted to smoke, others in the house wanted him to go outside.

Therein lay the problem, he told the court, as an electronic tagging device ruled that out.

Tagging devices monitor the movements of someone on bail, and they can detect their presence within a very precise area, such as the confines of a hostel or house.

Leaving that specific area automatically triggers an alert to the police warning of a potential breach of the suspect's bail conditions. This could see him going directly back to jail.

The devices are usually attached to someone's ankle.

Mr Rafferty said Linton wanted his perimeter to be extended by two metres, which would allow him to leave home in Main Street, Cloughmills, while remaining within its confines without breaking his bail.

He explained that while the security firm G4S could facilitate such a move, it could not do so without the court's permission.

Linton is accused of the attempted murder of a colleague following a work Christmas party. Although no details were given yesterday, a detetective constable had previously told the Magistrates Court that Linton had punched his victim to the ground with a single blow.

However, witnesses claimed he threw two further punches at the man's head as he lay unconscious.

As part of his bail conditions Linton has been bound by a curfew that has prevented him leaving home each evening for any reason.

District Judge Liam McNally said that "obviously there is someone in the house who does not want him to smoke".

He initially refused to change the bail conditions as neither Linton nor his lawyers were in court to make the application. Mr Rafferty later successfully reapplied for the variation, saying there had been a slight mix-up.

The judge told him the application had not been granted initially as the accused appeared to have no representation, and he "did not want to do anything detrimental to his health".

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