Belfast Telegraph

Murder victim Pat McCormick feared he was being set up before going to meeting in flat, court told

Lesley-Ann Dodds arrives at court
Lesley-Ann Dodds arrives at court
Pat McCormick’s wife Alison
Killed: Pat McCormick
Brett Campbell

By Brett Campbell

Murder victim and ex-UDR man William 'Pat' McCormick was lured to his death in a Co Down flat by a series of text messages and phone calls, a court has heard.

A PSNI detective inspector told a judge that the father-of-four expressed fears of being set up before entering the property where police believe he was killed, as a couple appeared in Newtownards Magistrates Court yesterday.

David Gill (26) from Ballyglighorn Road in Comber was remanded in custody after pleading not guilty to murdering the 55-year-old on May 30.

The detective inspector told Judge Rosalie Prytherch that Gill previously responded to the charge saying, "I'm not guilty, I'm completely innocent" before he was taken away.

Gill, who appeared in the dock wearing glasses, grey sweatpants and a T-shirt, spoke only to deny the charge.

No application for bail was made.

His fiancee Lesley-Ann Dodds from Mountcollyer Avenue in Belfast was led into the dock just a few moments later wearing a grey jumper.

The 21-year-old, who is accused of perverting the course of justice and aiding and abetting murder, was denied bail despite police confirming she was not "physically" involved in murdering the UDR and RIR veteran or in the removal of his body.

Mr McCormick's remains were discovered in a lake near Ballygowan on Tuesday afternoon following an anonymous tip-off.

However, the court was told that a series of phone calls and text messages were exchanged between both of the accused and Mr McCormick before he disappeared.

It was "as a result of a phone call" from Dodds that Mr McCormick made his way to Comber to meet her in a flat in the Castle Street area, the court heard.

One of the phone calls was made just a few moments before he entered the property.

CCTV footage shows Gill, who had been in possession of his fiancee's phone, entering the block of flats before leaving two-and-a-half hours later, but Mr McCormick was never seen alive again.

The detective in the case said Mr McCormick had expressed fears about the arranged meeting inside the property.

"He had been anxious about attending that address and feared he was being set up," she said.

The policewoman strongly objected to Dodds being granted bail due to the likelihood she might attempt to flee from the potentially "lengthy custodial sentence" she is now facing.

Despite being unemployed and on benefits, the court was told that the accused poses a "significant" flight risk and that computer data revealed she was searching for cheap holidays in the immediate aftermath of Mr McCormick's murder.

Dodds was also in breach of existing police bail conditions when she was arrested alongside Gill in his flat on Thursday.

The detective inspector also revealed that the couple were subject to a threat issued on June 5.

"That was pre-charge, so it may or may not have heightened, but it still exists," she added.

In addition to this the investigator outlined "serious concerns" that the accused will interfere with witnesses whose identities are known to her.

"Many have expressed concerns," she added. "One witness has already been granted anonymity, which shows the seriousness of the fear.

"Many residents have expressed a reluctance about giving evidence."

The policewoman also revealed that Dodds has suffered mental health problems since the murder and is considered to be at risk of self-harming.

The lawyer for the accused argued that his "vulnerable" client does not have the means to leave the jurisdiction and poses no threat to witnesses.

He said she had never been in any trouble with the law before and added that she was willing to live with her father, who had offered to provide surety.

The defence solicitor also said his client had only been in Gill's flat on July 11 to pick up items of clothing and other belongings.

However, Judge Prytherch ultimately denied the bail application.

"You have the right to appeal in the High Court but I am remanding you in custody today," she told Dodds.

Relatives of the deceased celebrated in the public gallery with a cheer before being asked to remain silent.

Dodds then smiled at her lawyer before being led out of the dock in handcuffs.

Both defendants will reappear in the same court via video-link on August 2.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph