Belfast Telegraph

Farmer set up prison accident, court hears

A farmer facing a murder charge allegedly set up a prison accident in a suspected attempt to get external medical treatment and possibly flee, the High Court has heard.

Prosecutors claimed Jimmy Seales “manufactured” an incident where two other inmates crushed his hands with a drain cover.

Seales (54) from Ballykeel Road, Hillsborough, is accused of the shotgun murder of Philip Strickland in January this year.

Mr Strickland (36) was shot in the head and leg in his car near Comber, Co Down.

Seales, who is also charged with possession of a firearm and making threats to kill, was himself allegedly kidnapped and subjected to a vicious assault months before the killing. His lawyers argue the injuries inflicted in that beating mean he was incapable of firing the murder weapon.

A new application for bail was opposed because of fears he may flee Northern Ireland if released from custody.

The court was told he has access to £5m in cash after completing a land sale.

Kate McKay, prosecuting, also disclosed police suspicions over fresh injuries suffered by Seales in custody.

She said there was CCTV footage showing him kicking a piece of paper into a drain then lifting the cover and putting his hands inside before two men slam it down in a crushing action.

“To put himself through that pain shows how desperate he is to try to get out,” Mrs McKay claimed.

Defence counsel Ian Turkington claimed the case against his client was weak and flawed.

He attacked the credibility of a key eye-witness and argued Seales should be released due to delays in obtaining forensic results.

Mr Turkington also rejected claims that the accused may flee, pointing out that all his business interests, property and farm land is in Northern Ireland.

Bail was refused on the basis that delays over forensics was not yet sufficient to compel release. However, Lord Justice Coghlin ordered a further review of the case in October.

“By that stage, a significant delay will have been solely attributed to the state's |failure to provide adequate resources to the forensic science laboratory.

“That may well permit a different view at that time,” he said.

Belfast Telegraph

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