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Steven Peck murder: Mother and daughter appear in court over related charges

Pair are the mother and sister of two men allegedly involved with killing of 33-year-old in Ballymoney

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Easther McCook and her daughter Lisa Gemmell who were remanded into custody today (wed) accused of interfering in the investigation into the murder of Steven Peck.

Easther McCook and her daughter Lisa Gemmell who were remanded into custody today (wed) accused of interfering in the investigation into the murder of Steven Peck.

Easther McCook and her daughter Lisa Gemmell who were remanded into custody today (wed) accused of interfering in the investigation into the murder of Steven Peck.

The mother and sister of two men allegedly involved with the murder of 33-year-old Steven Peck in Ballymoney have appeared in court.

Appearing via video link in Ballymena Magistrates’ Court, Easther McCook (46) was charged with assisting offenders while her daughter Lisa Gemmell (29) was charged with perverting the course of justice.

Both have now been remanded in custody as police continue their enquiries.

Mr Peck was the victim of a serious assault near the Joey Dunlop Leisure Centre in Ballymoney on January 3. Having been left at the scene, he was discovered by a dog walker before being rushed to hospital where he died from his injuries a week later.

David Austin (54), Cherry Drive in Ballymoney, and brothers Stephen and Brian McCook (aged 28 and 24), both from the Urbal Road in nearby Dervock, have been charged with attempted murder.

Brian McCook is also charged with threatening to kill Mr Austin's wife and a man who lived at the Austin home at Cherry Gardens in Ballymoney.

Ms McCook, from Urbal Road in Dervock, is alleged to have known that an attack had taken place before providing a false alibi and interfering with witnesses while her daughter, from Union Street in Ballymoney, is alleged to have destroyed phone evidence in connection to the incident.

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The footpath near the Joey Dunlop Leisure Centre on the Garryduff Road, Ballymoney Co. Antrim where Steven Peck was found on January 3, 2021 after he had been assaulted. Picture by Stephen Davison/Pacemaker

The footpath near the Joey Dunlop Leisure Centre on the Garryduff Road, Ballymoney Co. Antrim where Steven Peck was found on January 3, 2021 after he had been assaulted. Picture by Stephen Davison/Pacemaker

The footpath near the Joey Dunlop Leisure Centre on the Garryduff Road, Ballymoney Co. Antrim where Steven Peck was found on January 3, 2021 after he had been assaulted. Picture by Stephen Davison/Pacemaker

The PSNI have said they believe Mr Peck had been having an affair with Mrs Austin and thought he was meeting her when attacked by the defendants.

The police say this was David Austin’s motivation for carrying out the attack with the help of his friends, the McCooks.

In court on Wednesday, Detective Constable Gillen said that while the attack occurred Ms McCook was with Mrs Austin and held her phone which would have stopped her contacting Mr Peck or the police.

He said he also believed she tried to provide a false alibi for her two sons.

In addition, he said Ms Gemmell went to the Austin’s house after the attack and after taking Mrs Austin’s phone, allegedly deleted data and contact details from it.

The court also heard that the victim’s phone has yet to be recovered despite extensive searches.

Lodging bail applications, defence lawyers said that both women had previous criminal records but argued they were irrelevant to the current charges.

They added that both could not interfere with the police investigation as they required an appropriate adult to be present during interviews and said the necessary bail conditions could be put in place.

This was refused by District Judge Peter king as Mr Peck’s mobile phone is still missing.

“I’m not satisfied that there are conditions I could impose that would guarantee the integrity of the investigation,” he said.

Both women have been remanded into custody until February 1 along with the three alleged attackers.

Belfast Telegraph


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