Man accused of four murders to dispute evidence
Lawyers acting for a man accused of murdering three generations of the same family in an arson attack in Co Fermanagh are to challenge the evidence of some prosecution witnesses.
Daniel Sebastian Allen (28), of Molly Road, Derrylin, but remanded in custody since his arrest, is charged with murdering the four victims on February 27, 2018.
Denise Pauline Gossett (54) died along with her daughter Sabrina (19) and son Roman Edward (16).
Sabrina's infant daughter, Morgana, aged just 16 months, also perished.
The four perished when their Molly Road home was destroyed by what police described as a ferocious fire.
Specialist search teams took three days to recover the baby's remains.
Allen was arrested shortly afterwards and appeared in court charged with murder and arson with intent to endanger life by damaging the house in which the four victims resided.
He has been held in custody ever since.
There was some delay in the case due to forensic scientists experiencing an "excessive workload" and the intricate examination of some items proved more time-consuming than originally anticipated. However, earlier this year a committal date was scheduled to fix a date for a trial.
While that was progressing, defence lawyers advised the court of their intention to have some prosecution witness evidence challenged by way of Preliminary Investigation (PI).
This will require facilities set up to accommodate the hearing, in which disputed witnesses will be taken through their evidence, after which a decision will be made on whether there is a case to answer.
One witness is to travel from England for the hearing.
District Judge Michael Ranaghan listed the PI for November 5 and remanded Allen in continuing custody. Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK which continues to hold PIs, with other jurisdictions abolishing them some time ago.
It is the right of the defence to mount a PI in order to examine evidence of some or all prosecution witnesses.
Such hearings require specific court procedures, usually involving setting aside a specific venue.
A District Judge presides and after hearing all evidence will rule on whether or not the accused person is to stand trial or not.
It is believed those who died were originally from Doncaster in England, but had previously lived in Tralee in Co Kerry before moving to Fermanagh about a year before the blaze that claimed their lives.