Judge warns delays could see end to Moneymore attempted murder case
A judge has warned that a case of attempted murder, in which it is claimed a male was shot in the head, will be thrown out if the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) continue to delay proceedings.
David Colgan (23) from Smith Street, Moneymore, is accused of attempted murder and possessing a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life.
The charges relate to the shooting of Malachi Coleman, who was discovered slumped in a car by a passer-by in a remote area at Moneymore on March 9, 2018.
He was treated in intensive care and remained critically ill for some time. Following enquiries, police began efforts to trace Colgan but these were unsuccessful.
They subsequently learned a car belonging to him had been parked up for several months.
On investigating this, police recovered two pistols and a large quantity of cannabis inside.
Two safes were also located containing a pistol and white powder.
Colgan was arrested in July 2018 and provided police with a prepared statement denying any involvement in the incident.
Thereafter he replied "no comment" to all questions.
He was refused bail at Dungannon Magistrates Court, but this was later granted following an application to the High Court.
The case continued to be reviewed and earlier this year a prosecuting lawyer advised that a committal hearing to transfer to Crown Court for trial could be fixed for June 12.
Meanwhile, additional charges were brought separately, relating to the timing of the same alleged incident, involving the possession of firearms and ammunition as well as possessing cocaine and herbal cannabis with intend to supply.
The week before the scheduled committal in June, the prosecution requested this to be stood down to allow all charges to be combined together. This was agreed and a new committal date was listed for 1July 19, although concerns were raised last week that this may not be met, leading District Judge John Meehan to comment: "It should be noted, this matter has been ongoing for a year now."
Yesterday, while Colgan was in attendance and the committal listed for hearing, the prosecution said it could not go ahead.
Judge Meehan said: "The court is alert to delay in this matter. It would appear we have been led up alleys repeatedly by the PPS.
"Back in October 2018, we were told that which was outstanding or irregular was about to be resolved. Committal was fixed for June, that didn't occur, then fixed for July. Now that's not going ahead. This simply keeps the court blind," he said. "This is like a stone skipping over the water. The court has to be able to rely on the professional services of the PPS to be kept alert to what is going on.
"There has been inordinate delay."
The judge added: "The PPS will have a definitive decision on whether they can mount a committal on the next occasion.
"If they can't, the case will be struck out."
Colgan was remanded on continuing bail to appear again on August 30, the final date for the PPS to confirm their position.
If that isn't achieved, all charges will be withdrawn and bail terms lifted, although matters may be revisited at a later date.