Belfast Telegraph

Teen accused of Christopher Meli murder denied bail

By Paul Higgins

A teenager accused of murdering Christopher Meli has been refused bail after he allegedly set fire to his own car while he was drunk.

The accused had not been identified because of his age.

However, he can now be revealed as Caolan Laverty, after turning 18 yesterday.

Lisburn Magistrates Court heard that Laverty, from Broom Park in Dunmurry, breached curfew conditions as well as an alcohol ban on March 12.

A prosecuting lawyer told the court how a member of the public reported that a car was on fire and Laverty was found nearby hiding in a bush.

Adding that the car apparently belonged to Laverty, the lawyer said he was found four hours outside his curfew and he was "in a drunken state".

Arrested by police, Laverty allegedly became aggressive and damaged a cell when taken to Musgrave station.

A police officer told the court there was a "real risk he will reoffend if released," adding that this was second breach in three months.

Laverty, along with 18-year-olds Lee Smyth, from Colinbrook Gardens, and Stephen McCann, from Bearnagh Glen, both in Belfast, are accused of the murder of Christopher Meli on December 12, 2015.

The body of father-of-one Christopher Meli was discovered on a pathway in the Glasvey Close area of Twinbrook in west Belfast after he had been beaten to death.

Detectives believe up to 20 people were involved in a number of violent incidents that ended with the 20-year-old's murder on grassland known as Doc's Lane, in the early hours of Saturday, December 12.

Yesterday, Laverty's defence solicitor said that the first breach was in relation to the defendant staying at his uncle's home.

He added that the teenager has now been away from his family home, in an isolated area, for over one year.

He submitted that remanding Laverty back custody wouldn't benefit anybody.

Refusing bail however, District Judge Rosie Watters said the matter "will have to go to the High Court".

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