A 39-year-old man charged with the murder of Paul Rowlands in Portrush has had his bail application adjourned until the preliminary date of August 23.
Jason Robert Murray, of no fixed abode, did not appear before Coleraine Magistrates’ Court, sitting in Ballymena, this afternoon.
He remains in police custody but is expected before the court on August 8 via videolink, during which his bail application hearing will be reviewed by the judge.
A legal representative for the accused said there are “ongoing forensic enquiries” with the case and “direct enquiries relating to Mr Murray himself” in which they would like experts to be involved.
Yesterday, the court heard that Mr Murray was in a “relationship” with the victim, Mr Rowlands.
Father-of-five Mr Rowlands (46) was discovered by four members of the public around two hours after he was attacked on Bath Terrace in the early hours of Monday morning.
He had been visiting Northern Ireland from Cambridge and was living in a tent on the Portrush seafront, as was Mr Murray.
His injuries included a “laceration to his left temple above his eye and to the rear of his head”, but his murder is not being considered as a stabbing.
In yesterday’s court hearing, Mr Murray said he understood the murder charge against him but added: “I disagree with it.”
A detective constable, who said he could connect Mr Murray to the charge, explained to the court that during a police interview it was established that “the deceased and the applicant [Mr Murray] were in a relationship”.
Outlining the background of the case, the detective said Mr Rowlands’ body was found lying in a car parking space in front of a block of apartments on Bath Terrace before the ambulance service received a report at 2.13am on Monday.
Despite CPR attempts by paramedics, he was pronounced dead at 2.53am.
It is believed Mr Rowlands and Mr Murray were fighting on the evening of Mr Rowlands’ death at the location where his body was found.
Mr Murray initially refused to provide details to the police after officers located him. He was noted to be under the influence of either drink or drugs.
A search revealed he was in possession of a flick knife, for which he was arrested.
The detective constable told the court: “During the course of police interviews, the applicant did admit that he and the deceased were in a relationship.
“Police have made some enquiries into that and, while the enquiries are not complete, indications would appear to be that this was a domestic relationship between these two males.
“They had been on the streets, they were homeless — this was across the water. They were living in tents side by side on the East Strand Beach in Portrush.
“The applicant would state that they would both spend their time drinking, fishing, taking drugs of any kind and going on rides — this being amusement rides.
“The applicant admits being with the deceased on Sunday evening. They had been out fishing and had a barbecue.
“The applicant did give accounts to police. He admitted slapping the deceased and [said that] they had slapped each other — one for one — but as further evidence was put to him, particularly that of the post-mortem, the applicant changed his actions from slaps to punches and this would be indicative of the post-mortem report.”
The detective constable went on to explain that Murray left the scene after the attack and made his way to The Atlantic Bar, where he played games of pool.
“One witness, whom the applicant played pool with, will say that the applicant muttered the words: ‘I’ve just killed someone,’” he continued.
“This was during the game of pool being played. He did not say it loudly — he said it in a relatively low tone.
“But the witness will say that he clearly heard the words being said as the applicant was making his way around the pool table.
“At closing time, the applicant picked up his stuff — his rucksack, his coat and his fishing rod — and exited the bar.
“He spent some time standing outside talking to people, including the witness he was playing pool with, and he then made his way down Main Street, veered left on to Causeway Street, down past the Springhill Bar and down one of the alleyways that would bring you down to the council toilets at the car park on the East Strand.
“He will say he walked along the length of the pathway and took a right into the sand dunes, where the tent was located.”
During police interview, Mr Murray said he spent the night in one of the two tents and Mr Rowlands did not appear, which he had no concerns about.
“He would say this would happen regularly, as this was simply another lovers’ tiff, and he knew he would appear back at some stage,” the detective constable said.
Mr Murray then woke the next morning and went fishing until he was apprehended by police.