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Murdered schoolboy Michael McIlveen's uncle and brother in court over alleged retaliation attack

Hunting knife brandished during chase, court hears

The brother and uncle of murdered Ballymena schoolboy Michael McIlveen have appeared in court following an alleged incident in which one of those convicted of the 2006 killing was chased through Antrim town.

Two relations of Michael McIlveen, a 15-year-old from Ballymena who died after a sectarian assault in 2006, appeared in court on Monday, following an incident in Antrim town on Saturday night in which a man convicted of the schoolboy's killing was allegedly assaulted.

Michael McIlveen's brother - Andrew James Sean Smyth (18), an apprentice butcher, of Glendun Drive, Ballymena - and an uncle - Sean Joseph Patrick McIlveen (44), a construction worker, of Devenagh Way, Ballymena - appeared at Coleraine Magistrates Court following an alleged incident involving Aaron Wallace (29).

Both accused are charged with assaulting Wallace and assaulting his father Thomas Wallace who came to the scene.

Smyth is also charged with having an offensive weapon, a large hunting knife, at Fountain Hill in Antrim. McIlveen is charged with having the knife with intent to commit an indictable offence, namely threats to kill.

McIlveen is further charged with making a threat to kill Aaron Wallace and resisting a police officer.

Both accused appeared side by side in the dock as relatives, including Michael McIlveen's mother Gina, looked on from the public gallery.

Smyth was wearing a grey tracksuit and McIlveen was wearing an Antrim GAA tracksuit.

Michael McIlveen (15), a Catholic who lived at Dunvale in Ballymena, was killed in a sectarian attack after being chased by a gang and struck with a baseball bat in an alleyway in Ballymena town centre. The teenager, known as 'Mickey Bo', later died from brain injuries.

In court on Monday, a police officer said she believed she could connect both accused to the charges regarding the weekend incident. A prosecutor objected to bail.

The police officer said Sean McIlveen is the uncle and Smyth the brother of Michael McIlveen who was murdered in 2006.

The alleged victim in the case before the court, Aaron Wallace, was one of the people convicted following the schoolboy's death. As part of a prison release programme, he resides in Antrim at weekends.

The officer said at around 7.30pm on Saturday, police received several calls from members of the public in Rathkyle reporting that a male was being chased by other males and at least one knife appeared to be involved.

Hid in staff toilet

The alleged victim hid in the KFC at Fountain Hill.

When police arrived both the accused were in the car park, along with other members of the McIlveen family, and they were "highly agitated".

Smyth allegedly shouted: "That b-stard in there, he murdered my brother".

Police established that Wallace had locked himself into a staff toilet.

He told police he'd been walking along when a female shouted "murdering b-stard".  He was then chased by two males for half a mile. One man told him: "I'm going to cut your throat", the court heard.

He had been distressed and frightened and vomited into the toilet and was "in fear of his life".

The officer said one man tried to jump over the KFC counter to get Wallace but was prevented from doing so by a staff member.

The officer testified that a witness said Smyth had a knife and that a "large hunting style knife" was found in a nearby grass area.

The police officer said Wallace's father Thomas Wallace was told his son was in trouble. When he went to the KFC, he was subjected to abuse and said McIlveen punched him on the chin and Smyth kicked him on the leg and threats to kill were made.

It was alleged McIlveen said: "Get him out here, we are going to kill him".

'Retaliation'

The police officer said they believed the accused armed themselves and travelled from Ballymena to Antrim to carry out an attack on Wallace "in retaliation" for the murder of Michael McIlveen.

She said the PSNI feared they may try to seek out other people convicted in connection with the killing and noted that the eleventh anniversary of the murder has just passed.

She said those convicted have either been released or are in the process of being released. The officer said police believed the two accused would have caused serious harm to Wallace if they had caught him.

The officer said "suspicious" vehicles were in the area earlier that day and added police believe "possibly three carloads" of people were present because they were aware Wallace was in the area.

She added threats were allegedly made to Wallace's father and step-mother that they would see Aaron Wallace "dead".

Defence barrister Ben Thompson said both accused totally deny the charges.

He said: "The murder of Michael McIlveen was one of the most notorious of the last decades".

He said Smyth had a clear record and although McIlveen had a record it was from a number of years ago.

'A difficult decision'

Granting bail, District Judge Liam McNally said it was a "difficult application and a difficult decision to make".

The judge said the case was linked to the "unfortunate murder" of Michael McIlveen and told the accused the police case is that they had "tried to exact revenge for that killing by taking the law into your own hands".

He said he accepted that eleven years on emotions were still "raw" and the judge believed there was a likelihood of further offending but said in the circumstances he believed that risk could be monitored with conditions.

Both accused were released on their own bail of £1,000 with £2,000 sureties and ordered to report to police three times a week.

They are banned from entering Antrim town and are to have no contact with Aaron or Thomas Wallace.

The judge told the accused they were "very fortunate" to be getting bail as it was a "fine line" and he warned them they will be remanded in custody if they breach any conditions.

The case was adjourned to Coleraine Magistrates Court in June.

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