Belfast Telegraph

Murder case against husband and wife is dropped after review

BY CLAIRE WILLIAMSON

A couple accused of shooting a man dead have had murder charges against them dropped.

Charles Valliday and his wife Julie-Ann had both been charged with murdering 31-year-old Christopher Mackin on March 1 last year.

Mr Mackin was killed when he was shot up to seven times at College Square North.

Previously, the courts heard allegations that the pair, originally from Powerscourt Place in Belfast, but now with an address in Antrim, had "worked together" to lure Mr Mackin to his death.

But the prosecution dropped the case after a review of papers and consultation with the director of the Public Prosecution Service (PPS).

A third person, James John Valliday (47), from Springfield Meadow in Belfast, had been charged with assisting offenders by buying petrol to set fire to a Renault Clio car that was allegedly used in the murder. His charges were also dropped.

It is understood the case against the trio centred around circumstantial evidence involving CCTV footage, telecommunications evidence and swabs of cartridge discharge residue.

While Mr Justice Weir dismissed the case against all three, a PPS spokesperson said yesterday that its intention was to "recommence proceedings against all three individuals".

The dismissal of the trio comes after a lengthy trial which started last March.

During proceedings, the court had heard a detective inspector claim there was evidence of Julie-Ann Valliday driving a Renault Clio in the Divis Street area just minutes before the shooting, although her passenger could not be identified.

During questioning by Charles Valliday's solicitor, the officer had told the court that there were approximately 50 contacts between Julie-Ann Valliday and the victim in a three-and-a-half hour period before the shooting.

He claimed: "Mrs Valliday has lured this man to the scene where he was murdered. Within an hour of that she was with her husband, which leads us to believe they both acted together in this enterprise."

Mrs Valliday's lawyer had said there was no evidence connecting her to the murder scene. When questioned about whether they had previously been involved in crime, the officer had claimed he had intelligence against the pair.

He said: "I believe Mr Valliday is a major drug dealer in Belfast, and his wife is an equal partner in that."

The married couple were opposed bail as the detective told the court Valliday had connections in the Irish Republic and access to substantial sums of cash which would enable him to flee.

They couple were also charged with possessing a revolver and 51 bullets under suspicious circumstances, with further allegations of having heroin with intent to supply.

None of Valliday's defence lawyers were available for comment.

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