Belfast Telegraph

Belfast woman admits affray on night of Christopher Meli murder

Christopher Meli was beaten to death in west Belfast in 2015
Christopher Meli was beaten to death in west Belfast in 2015

By Ashleigh McDonald

A woman charged with an offence arising from violence in west Belfast which ended with the death of Christopher Meli has admitted committing affray on the night in question.

The 20-year old father-of-one was beaten to death on a pathway known as Doc's Lane in Twinbrook on the evening of December 12, 2015.

Shannon McIlwaine appeared at Belfast Crown Court on Monday, where her barrister asked that she be re-arraigned on a charge of affray.

The 21-year old, from Glenalina Crescent in west Belfast, spoke to confirm her name. She was then charged with "unlawfully displaying force and making an affray" on December 12, 2015.

When the charge was put to her, she replied "guilty".

McIlwaine's barrister Charles MacCreanor QC said his client's plea to affray was on the grounds it was "not one of causing actual violence that led to the death of Mr Meli" but rather it was agreed on the basis she was part of the crowd that "moved before the violence."

Crown barrister Neil Connor QC said McIlwaine's plea was accepted on those grounds as "that is the prosecution's case."

A total of five young people have now entered various pleas linked to violent confrontations in the area on the night in question.

Three defendants are now facing trial for murdering Mr Meli: Caolan Laverty (20) from Belfast Road in Glenavy, 22-year old Lee Smyth with an address in Co Antrim that cannnot be reported, and Stephen McCann (22) from Dundrinne Road in Castlewellan.

The trial is due to commence later this month, with Mr Justice Colton informing Monday's hearing that he will sentence McIlwaine for the affray charge upon the completion of the trial.

After no objections to continuing bail were voiced, the Judge told McIlwaine she was free to go and will be sentenced at a later date.

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