A decision not to tell a jury about the murderous past of a man on trial for attacking his girlfriend has been strongly criticised by the family of the woman he killed 13 years ago.
David Thomas McCord (46) was last week unanimously cleared of causing grievous bodily harm to his girlfriend with intent on June 13 last year.
He was also cleared of the alternative charge of causing her grievous bodily harm.
The jury took just over one hour to return the not guilty verdicts following a two-day trial at Belfast Crown Court.
But the jury were not informed that McCord was handed a life sentence in May 2004 for the murder of girlfriend Nichola Dickson.
The 26-year-old was strangled and stabbed in the bedroom of her Ballycarry home in January 2003.
McCord admitted the murder charge and was subsequently sentenced to a minimum of 11 years in prison.
A short time after his release from prison for the murder, McCord, from the Antrim Road in north Belfast, was charged with injuring a woman he had met on the internet.
His victim sustained a broken hip following an incident in east Belfast.
A court heard the pair had met online and had been dating for around six weeks prior to the incident.
The prosecution said that McCord and the woman had gone to east Belfast to watch a band parade. Both had been drinking, and several witnesses told the jury they saw a man and woman engaged in a scuffle on the Newtownards Road.
Each of the witnesses saw the woman fall to the ground, and it was the Crown's case that McCord pushed the woman to the ground, causing the fracture to her hip.
However, McCord's defence argued that the pair became involved in a scuffle and after the woman grabbed and ripped McCord's T-shirt, he pushed her away, resulting in the fall.
The family of Nichola said last night the jury should have been made aware of his violent past.
"The jury should have been told what this man is capable of, of what he did," said Nichola's mother Linda Brown.
"I just do not understand why bad character evidence was not introduced."
Nichola's brother Gareth added: "Why would the jury not be told about his past?
"I am angry that this was kept from them. He's a dangerous man.
"The whole judicial system from start to finish has been geared towards protecting him. We are also angry that nobody informed us that he was back in court."
The Public Prosecution Service said that "consideration was given to introducing bad character evidence, however there was no legal basis upon which to do so in this case".