Belfast Telegraph

Strict bail conditions for Ballycastle murder accused

By Ashleigh McDonald

A 52-year-old who denies involvement in the murder of a man in Ballycastle has been released on bail.

John Keenan is accused, along with his nephew Christopher Keenan, of murdering Co Antrim labourer Anthony McErlain last January.

During a bail application made at Belfast Crown Court yesterday, it emerged that the 48-year-old victim's body was discovered lying face-down in the living room of a flat in the Broombeg View area of the seaside town.

The prosecutor told the court: "There was a considerable amount of blood around the wall, and there were fragments of a frying pan or saucepan lying close to the deceased."

The Crown barrister said that initially John Keenan was not a suspect and was treated as a witness.

When he was later arrested on suspicion of murder, the 52-year-old, whose address was given as Victoria Street in Belfast, said that prior to falling asleep, those in the flat had all been drinking.

Saying the Crown was opposing bail, the prosecutor said that some of the claims that were made by Keenan "don't seem to tally".

The prosecutor also spoke of concerns of a "major risk of flight in this case" - prompted, she said, by that fact that following the murder of Mr McErlain, Keenan went to London then Cardiff.

A barrister acting for Keenan pointed out that after being interviewed as a witness and not a suspect, Keenan moved to London "due to an unrelated issue of a perceived threat being made to him."

She also made the case that her client was not on the run or at large, and that the first time he was aware of the summons against him was "in and around April".

She told Mr Justice Colton that the analysis of footwear evidence in this case had "further advanced" Keenan's version of events.

Regarding concerns of a risk of flight should Keenan be granted bail, his barrister said all Keenan's family links were in Northern Ireland, that he had "no financial means whatsoever" to enable him to flee, and that he had already surrendered his passport.

Mr Justice Colton said that he was willing to release Keenan under stringent conditions, including that he should reside at a suitable address in Portstewart, that he must abide by a curfew, that he must stay out of Ballycastle, report to police five times a week and he must not drink alcohol.

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