Belfast Telegraph

Accused's not guilty plea to murder charge sparks angry scenes

By Ashleigh McDonald

Anger erupted in court yesterday after 'not guilty' pleas were entered by a father-of-one accused of murdering a 24-year-old Co Down man.

Rhys Magee also denied two charges of perverting the course of public justice in relation to the death of Richard Miskelly.

Shouting and screaming greeted the pleas.

Releasing Magee (20), from Carrowdore Road in Newtownards, on continuing bail, Downpatrick Crown Court judge Mr Justice Colton fixed the date of his trial, expected to last up to three weeks, for January 15.

No details surrounding the death of Mr Miskelly were given during the short arraignment hearing held in Belfast.

However, last week a bail hearing was told he died outside a house on the Bangor Road in the early hours of February 26 last year, despite the efforts of emergency services who were called to the scene.

A post-mortem revealed Mr Miskelly died from a bleed on the brain caused by blunt force trauma to the head. He also had bruising and abrasions to the side of his neck, two fractures to the jaw which were possibly caused by a kick and other injuries to his face and body.

Magee, said to have been high on a cocktail of drink and drugs, initially claimed he had just arrived at the scene in a taxi and came across Mr Miskelly lying on the ground outside a friend's house.

However, during last week's hearing, it also emerged that Mr Miskelly and a friend were allegedly ordered out of the house by Magee and another man, who then confronted them in the driveway.

The court also heard that following the attack "an emotional" Magee had called an ambulance and then carried out chest compressions on Mr Miskelly for around 10 minutes.

Magee's bail involves a number of stringent conditions, including a ban on consuming drink and drugs, reporting to police five times a week, and being electronically tagged.

Belfast Telegraph

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