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Prosecutors fail to block custody release of father and son accused of killing relative at Newtownbutler wedding

By Alan Erwin

Published 29/09/2015

William McGinley, 26, who is accused of murdering his great-uncle Bernard McGinley close to a church in rural Co Fermanagh
William McGinley, 26, who is accused of murdering his great-uncle Bernard McGinley close to a church in rural Co Fermanagh

Prosecutors failed today in a High Court bid to block the release from custody of a father and son accused of killing a relative at a family wedding.

Mr Justice Burgess dismissed the appeal against bail being granted to Patrick and William McGinley, aged 46 and 27, after predicting any trial might not get underway until 2017.

Both men are charged with the murder of 63-year-old Bernard 'Barney' McGinley in Newtownbutler, Co Fermanagh on February 11.

The victim was shot dead in front of his wife outside Sty Mary's Church where the Traveller wedding ceremony was to take place.

William McGinley is also charged with the attempted murder of the dead man's son, Bernard McGinley Jr.

The two accused, both from Lisfarrell in Edgeworthstown, Co Longford, must each put up a £50,000 cash surety as part of their release conditions.

The killing is allegedly linked to a wider dispute within the McGinley family.

Prosecutors mounted a High Court appeal following a magistrate's decision to grant bail to the father and son.

Barrister Stephanie Boyd claimed there was a risk of further offences due to the circumstances surrounding the shooting.

Referring to Patrick McGinley, she said: "The applicant himself has asserted there's been significant incidents of serious violence within his wider family."

Although the murder weapon has not yet been recovered, the court heard that gardai are carrying out examinations on a gun in their possession.

Desmond Fahy, defending, hit out at the pace of the police investigation, describing progress made to date as "lamentable".

Checks have been completed on less than half of 147 vehicles in the Newtownbutler area identified as potentially relevant to the murder probe, the court heard.

Mr Fahy also contended that out of 100 people seen on CCTV footage, fewer than 50% have been spoken to by police.

He cited a series of alleged attacks on Patrick McGinley and his family since the killing.

Shots were fired at a relative's house in March, while McGinley's wife was targeted in a gun attack two months later, it was claimed.

Mr Justice Burgess was told the defence "strongly suspect" the same weapon was used in each incident.

Ruling on the application, the judge acknowledged the scale of the ongoing police inquiries.

 "This is a complex and time-consuming investigation... it seems to me against the background described that to use the word lamentable is harsh," he said.

However, in his assessment it will be 2016 and possibly even early 2017 before any trial begins.

Backing the decision to grant bail, Mr Justice Burgess ordered that both accused must report to police daily.

He ordered them to live at an address in Northern Ireland approved by police and surrender passports.

The judge added: "Neither of them are to move out of this jurisdiction without police knowing about that."

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