Belfast Telegraph

Parents of murdered man Meli put in cells following court outburst

Christopher Meli's parents Christopher and Vanessa, who were fined in court yesterday
Christopher Meli's parents Christopher and Vanessa, who were fined in court yesterday
Christopher Meli
Lee Smyth

By Paul Higgins

The parents of a west Belfast man beaten to death more than two years ago were put into the cells at a court yesterday and fined £100 for what a judge said was “wilful disruption” of the proceedings.

Earlier Lee Smyth had appeared at Craigavon Magistrates Court via video-link to successfully apply for bail.

The 21-year-old, from Colinbrook Gardens in Dunmurry, had been in custody accused of the murder of Christopher Meli on December 12, 2015.

Two other men — Caolan Laverty (18) and Stephen McCann (20), both from west Belfast — are also charged with the murder.

The body of 20-year-old father-of-one was discovered on a pathway at Glasvey Close in Twinbrook.

Detectives believe up to 20 people were involved in a number of violent incidents that ended in the murder on grassland known as Doc’s Lane in the early hours of Saturday, December 12.

During Smyth’s bail application yesterday, his alleged victim’s parents, Christopher and Vanessa, initially stood at the side of the public seating area with police officers alongside.

District Judge Bernie Kelly asked them to sit down and they did.

When Smyth was granted bail on condition that he provides a suitable bail address, Mr Meli’s parents shouted a number of remarks towards him.

The pair left the courtroom but Judge Kelly asked for them to be brought back and taken down to the cells, asking for one of the local solicitors to go down and consult with them. Around 40 minutes later the couple were brought from the cells back into the dock.

Judge Kelly said it was quite obvious there was a bit of needling going on when they had been asked to take their seats and that “foul and abusive language” had been used.

“I do understand the situation, but nobody should have to listen to an abusive tirade,” she told the pair.

The judge also warned them that the case was going to take a while and if they continued to behave like this every time the case was in court they were going to end up in the cells.

She ruled there had been a wilful disruption of the court proceedings, but said that she would limit the sentence to a fine in each case.

“If you repeat this you will end up in custody,” warned the judge .

Both were fined £100 each and ordered to pay a £15 offender’s levy.

Judge Kelly said she would allow 12 weeks to pay, and if not paid in that time, they could face seven days in custody.

Belfast Telegraph

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