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Suspect accused of hacking man to death in front of wife is refused bail

A man has been remanded in custody charged with the murder of a Traveller hacked to death in front of his pregnant wife.

Thomas Stokes (22) is accused of killing John Mongan, who died in an attack at his west Belfast home in February 2008.

Stokes, of The Old Fort in Strathfoyle, Londonderry, was refused bail due to the risk of interference with witnesses.

Belfast Magistrates Court heard he was arrested after two people known to him contacted police.

But according to a defence lawyer they were previously questioned about the murder and gave different accounts.

It was also stressed that Stokes has no prior record for violence. But with police opposing his release, the district judge remanded him in custody to appear again by video link next month.

Mr Mongan (30) suffered up to 50 wounds in the fatal attack, some possibly inflicted by a sword or machete.

The father-of-three was attacked with hatchets and other bladed weapons after intruders forced their way into his Fallswater Street home.

His killers had smashed through a barricaded bedroom door to get at him.

In December 2009 three Londonderry men were found guilty of the murder.

But one of them, 19-year-old Martin Stokes, later won his appeal against the conviction due to conflicting witness descriptions and a sense of unease about the safety of the verdict.

He is currently out on bail awaiting a retrial which is due to take place later this year.

Belfast Telegraph