Belfast Telegraph

Philip Strickland murder: Accused offered to help find gun used in murder

By John Cassidy

A man accused of murder volunteered to help detectives look for the weapon used in the killing, a court has heard.

Philip Strickland (37) was shot in the leg at a yard on the outskirts of Comber before being bundled into the boot of his own car and driven a short distance to the Ballydrain Road, where he was shot in the face.

Two men – 56-year-old farmer Jimmy Seales, from Ballykeel Road in Hillsborough, and Stephen McCaughey (26), from Shackleton Walk, Newtownards – deny the murder.

Two of Seales' sons – Ian and Jason Weir from the Derryboye Road and the Raffery Road, near Killinchy – have already pleaded guilty to murder.

The jury heard that on September 26, 2012, McCaughey was interviewed voluntarily at Maghaberry Prison where he had been on remand for eight months.

Under cross-examination, a detective confirmed that McCaughey had stated he could help police find the gun.

The court heard that on March 4, 2013 McCaughey was taken from jail and accompanied police to Raffery Road where a property was searched.

The detective said: "The weapon has not been recovered.''

Earlier the jury heard taped interviews. In one McCaughey told police that he arrived at the yard on the Ballyglighorn Road after receiving a phone call from Jason Weir to meet him there as there was "going to be a scuffle''.

He said that as he pulled into the yard in his Peugeot car, a Mercedes car "screamed past him, the wheels skidded and the car went into reverse''.

The jury, sitting with trial judge Mr Justice Weir, heard that McCaughey told police Jimmy Seales got out of the Mercedes car and was "carrying a shotgun''.

"Jimmy said to me: 'McCaughey, stay out of this. This has got nothing to do with you'.''

McCaughey said he then heard a "dull shot'' and saw Philip Strickland lying on the ground, with Jason and Ian Weir kneeling over him, punching and kicking him.

Seales has denied any role in the murder.

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