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Uncle joins nephew in being accused of ex-labourer's murder

By Nevin Farrell

An uncle of a man accused of murder in Ballycastle is also now facing the same charge, a court has heard.

Christopher Patrick Keenan (35), of Broombeg View in the Co Antrim town, is charged with murdering former labourer Anthony McErlain on January 28 last year.

Coleraine Magistrates Court yesterday heard Keenan's uncle - John Paul Patrick Keenan (51), whose address was given as Victoria Street in Belfast - is now also being accused of murdering Mr McErlain.

District Judge Liam McNally was told by John Keenan's defence solicitor Derwin Harvey that the accused was in a homeless hostel in London and a summons has been served.

John Keenan's case has been adjourned until April 24.

Meanwhile, a preliminary enquiry - the legal step to send a case to the Crown Court - was held for Christopher Keenan at yesterday's court.

Christopher Keenan, who was wearing a blue tracksuit top and grey tracksuit bottoms, had his case sent to Antrim Crown Court for arraignment on May 9.

Flanked in the dock by prison officers, he confirmed his name and age.

He said he understood the charge and had no objections to a preliminary enquiry being held.

A prosecutor said she believed she could connect the accused to the charge, and a defence lawyer said he had no contrary submissions.

Judge McNally held there was sufficient evidence to return the case to the Crown Court.

Keenan indicated he did not wish to say anything in answer to the charge.

The body of 48-year-old Mr McErlain was found at a house in Broombeg View in January last year.

The father-of-two was a former labourer who had spent many years living over the border in the Republic.

He also worked on the Channel Tunnel, and had previously been employed with McKeague's Concrete in Dunloy.

Meanwhile, in a separate case at yesterday's court, Christopher Keenan pleaded guilty to the theft of a £8.99 bottle of wine on January 8, 2016.

Jailing him for two months on that charge, Judge McNally said the defendant had a number of matters regarding theft on his record.

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