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McDaid accused’s bail revoked over DNA evidence

Kevin Brendan McDaid who was murdered in the Heights area of Coleraine
Kevin Brendan McDaid who was murdered in the Heights area of Coleraine

DNA matching a former doorman accused of the mob murder of Catholic community worker Kevin McDaid was found on a pick-axe handle recovered by police, the High Court has heard.

Prosecutors disclosed the forensic link as they successfully appealed a decision to grant bail to John Thompson, an alleged ringleader in the attack.

Thompson (30) is among 11 suspects accused over the killing in Coleraine, Co Londonderry, in May.

He faces charges of murder, the attempted murder of another local Catholic Damien Fleming, and assaulting a third man during sectarian clashes in the town.

Mr McDaid, a 49-year-old father-of-four, was beaten to death when violence erupted in the Heights area, allegedly over the erection of Irish tricolour flags.

Thompson, of Danes Hill Road, Coleraine, was granted bail by a magistrate last Friday, but remained in custody while the prosecution challenged that decision.

Crown counsel Kate McKay said 10 different witnesses claimed he was at the scene of the killing with some describing him as giving orders, organising, being one of the leaders and a “front-rank” in the crowd involved.

One of Mr McDaid's sons alleged Thompson was the first person to strike his father, and that he allegedly stamped on Mr Fleming's head, the court heard.

Mrs McKay said a pick-axe handle recovered following the attack had been examined and found to have Mr Fleming's blood on it.

She added that handling marks were studied, with a DNA profile said to match that of Thompson.

Blood matching the accused was also discovered in a taxi used to take people to and from the scene, the prosecution said.

With 25 people said to be under death threat amid heightened tensions around the case, defence counsel Andrew Moriarty pointed out those warned by police about their personal safety were split evenly between the two factions.

Mr Moriarty told the court graffiti declaring “Thompo RIP INLA” had been daubed in the area, and stressed how his client has Catholic relatives.

But despite the defence offering the deeds to a mortgage-free £140,000 house as a surety, and an address more than 30 miles outside Coleraine, a judge allowed the prosecution appeal.

Mr Justice Treacy ruled that Thompson was not a suitable candidate for bail after referring to the DNA evidence and witness claims.

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