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Alleged killer of teacher Robert Flowerday may have used bag as mask

Robert Flowerday

A man accused of murdering a pensioner in his own home may have used a plastic bag as a mask, a court has heard.

Michael Owens (34) appeared at Antrim Magistrates Court via videolink from Maghaberry prison. A prosecuting lawyer said an update on preliminary forensic results from a plastic bag gave "extremely strong support" to the case and related to the "mouth and handle of the bag".

"There is no return date at present for the outstanding forensic reports," she told the court, adding that these included "fingernail scrapings".

Owens, from the Lisburn Road in Glenavy, is in custody charged with the murder of popular retired Antrim Grammar School teacher,, on January 28 this year.

He is further accused with the burglary of Mr Flowerday's home on December 6 last year.

The body of the 64 year-old was found at his home on the Mill Road in Crumlin on January 28 after police called to his house because a member of the public raised concerns.

Previous court sittings have heard claims that former teacher Mr Flowerday (inset) sustained injuries "of the most horrific nature" and that there was a preliminary finding of a "positive DNA" result which allegedly connects Owens "to the murder scene".

In court yesterday, defence solicitor Tony Caher highlighted that on a previous court date, a Detective Sergeant Walsh mentioned a preliminary DNA report on "an item"which allegedly connected Owens to the scene.

"Now we are all told that it's a bag," he said, revealing that there were also "28 other items".

Mr Caher told District Judge Nigel Broderick he had "real concerns" over a plastic bag which "appears to have been utilised to act as a mask" and pointed out that this bag was "referred to by another witness late in the day".

Remanding Owens back into custody, Judge Broderick adjourned the case to May 29.

Belfast Telegraph