A woman arrested in Londonderry on Sunday evening has appeared in court charged with preventing the lawful burial of her partner.
The severely decomposed body was found in a flat they shared at Bayview Terrace beside Strand Road PSNI station.
Catherine Louise Young (35), of no fixed abode, who comes from Ballymoney, denies the charge.
She is further charged with prior to arriving in Derry, entering as a trespasser premises at Fort View in Ballymoney and stealing the occupant’s car keys and his car and driving it without insurance. The defendant is alleged to have committed the offences last Sunday.
She is further alleged to have stolen and attempted to use her dead partner’s bank card, also last Sunday, in Derry.
At the city’s magistrates court a detective constable told District Judge Oonagh Mullan that the “severely composed body” of Barry Devlin was found in a flat at Bayview Terrace on Sunday.
It is believed he had been dead since late October or early November. At that time the defendant was in hospital.
The officer said the defendant discharged herself from the hospital last Tuesday or Wednesday after which “she said she had been laying on her mother’s grave”.
The detective said the whereabouts of the defendant for three to four days after she left hospital were unknown until she arrived in Derry.
The defendant contacted the Housing Executive who arranged emergency accommodation for her in a local bed and breakfast but the address was withdrawn from her by the landlady following a dispute between her and the defendant.
The detective constable said on Sunday morning the police were contacted “by a young girl in England” who said the defendant, whom she knew, had posted on Facebook her intention to harm herself. A check of the police system showed the defendant once had an address at Bayview Terrace. Officers went there and found Mr Devlin’s body on his bed.
“It was severely decomposed and he had been dead for several weeks at this stage”, the officer said.
The police checked the CCTV cameras which showed footage of the defendant reaching into and taking post from a communal post area outside Mr Devlin’s flat. Later on the same day the defendant was involved in a road traffic incident. The car she had allegedly stolen from Ballymoney was found in the Sainsbury’s car part at Strand Road.
The detective said that, when the defendant was arrested, they found on her Mr Devlin’s recently issued bank card which had been used at an ATM in the Diamond earlier on Sunday. She said there was no forensic, DNA nor CCTV evidence to show that the defendant had entered Mr Devlin’s flat, but she said Mr Devlin’s body was “easily seen through the flat window”.
Applying for bail, defence barrister Damien Halloran told the District Judge that the defendant told the police she had borrowed the car from the owner in Ballymoney and that the car was later found “outside a property associated with him” in Derry. He said there was no evidence putting the defendant inside the deceased’s flat “to enable her to conclude Barry Devlin was dead”.
Mr Halloran said the defendant had significant mental health issues for which she had been detained both in Northern Ireland and in Scotland. He said she had no relevant record and there was a dearth of evidence that she knew Mr Devlin was dead. He said the forensic investigation alone would involve examining over 6,000 text messages on the defendant’s mobile phone.
The District Judge released the defendant on her own bail of £750 and adjourned the case until December 10. As part of her bail conditions the defendant must only reside at an address approved by the police and observe a 9pm to 8am curfew.
She will also be electronically monitored and she must report to the police three times weekly. She’s also banned from consuming alcohol and non-prescription drugs and banned from contacting any witnesses in the case.
Ms. Mullan also ordered the defendant to report to her GP and to comply with any medical advice or direction.