Belfast Telegraph

Man in court accused of lying to Padraig Fox murder probe officers

Killed: Padraig Fox
Killed: Padraig Fox

The cousin of the alleged killer of Newcastle man Padraig Fox has appeared in court accused of lying to police.

Standing in the dock of Downpatrick Magistrates Court, 20-year-old Nathan Rice confirmed that he understood the two charges against him.

Rice, from Bernagh Green in Newcastle, is accused of burglary of the Slieve Donard Hotel where he allegedly stole three bottles of alcohol and perverting the course of justice in that he allegedly made a statement to police knowing it was false with both offences allegedly committed in 8 December.

He is the third man to appear in court charged in relation to the death of Padraig Fox last weekend.

On Wednesday, December 12, at Newtownards Magistrates Court, his cousin 21-year-old Donach Rice appeared accused of murder and jointly charged with Paul Patrick Magennis (26) on charges of perverting justice by faking knife wounds to “give the false impression” of self defence, burglary of the Slieve Donard Hotel and attempted robbery of cash.

Donach Rice is also accused of fraud by false representation by allegedly trying to cash in a winning betting slip.

That court heard how Donach Rice, from the Kilkeel Road in Annalong and who issued “heartfelt apologies” through his solicitor for the death of 29-year-old Mr Fox, had “made admissions” during police interviews.

As well as burglary, attempted robbery and lying to police Magennis, from Burrendale Park in Newcastle, is also alleged to have perverted justice by placing a knife into the hand of Mr Fox after he was killed and stealing a bicycle two days before the murder.

In court on Thursday, December13, detective Inspector Wright gave evidence that he believed he could connect Nathan Rice to the charges he faces, adding that police were objecting to bail as he is a “priority offender” who had “no job and no stability.”

None of the facts surrounding the allegations were opened in court but the senior detective said the charges were in connection with Mr Fox’s murder at a Burrendale Park Road flat.

The body of  Mr Fox (29) was found at around 1.45pm on Saturday inside a flat on Burrendale Park Road in Newcastle.

It is understood Mr Fox had only moved into the block of flats a few months ago.

When DI Wright was being cross examined by Mr Keown on behalf of Donach Rice he had agreed that Mr Fox’s “tragic death was delivered by one punch” but the senior officer added however it is the police case that “the victim had been assaulted prior to that one punch.”

“I have been asked by the defendant, who has made admissions to delivering that one punch, asked specifically by him to convey his heartfelt apologies to the family of the deceased,” said the solicitor.

In court today and acting for Nathan Rice, Mr Keown conceded "It's accepted that he did make a false statement to police.”

He submitted however the defendant had  "acted very foolishly out of a sense of misguided loyalty to his cousin."

Refusing bail, District Judge Amanda Brady remanded him into custody to appear again on 3 January by videolink.

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