Teenager accused of murdering homeless man has bail eased so he can go to a rave
A teenager charged with murdering a homeless man has had his bail conditions relaxed to allow him to go to a rave later this month.
However, the judge expressed concerns over the accused's original intention to hire a bus with others, travel to Belfast for the event and not return home until 4am.
Named for the first time because he is no longer a youth, Caolan Michael Johnston (18) of The Fort, Maghera, is accused of murdering Piotr Krowka (36) in April 2018 along with co-accused Adrian Kozack (19) of Craigmore Heights, also in Maghera.
The body of the Polish national was discovered in a former parochial house.
On first appearing in court both were remanded in custody, with the cases split between Magherafelt Magistrates Court for Kozack and Dungannon Youth Court for Johnston, who was 17 at the time of arrest.
A bail application followed in which police strongly opposed Johnston's release, describing what is alleged to have occurred as "a sustained, violent assault, causing the victim's death".
A detective inspector said Mr Krowka was last seen alive at about 9pm on March 31, 2018, when he was followed by a person, believed to be Kozack.
Some sort of scuffle or confrontation occurred and Kozack ran off, seeking assistance from others congregating in the area, one of whom is believed to have been Johnston.
Police found Mr Krowka's body on the afternoon of April 3 and a post-mortem examination revealed he had suffered a violent death caused by "blunt force trauma" to his head, chest, abdomen and left arm.
There was also evidence that a sharp weapon was used and pressure applied to his neck.
Johnston was described as a suspected member of a gang calling themselves the "Maghera Mafia", who had been terrorising the community with anti-social behaviour for some time.
However, it was decided Johnston could be released on strict terms including residence with his parents, a curfew from 9pm to 7am, electronic tagging and refraining from drugs and alcohol. Kozack will be granted bail at a later date.
Johnston appeared yesterday at Magherafelt Magistrates Court, wanting his terms varied to permit him to travel to the rave in Belfast and not return until the early hours of the following morning.
When a defence lawyer said his client was unlikely to be home before 4am, the judge asked: "What sort of concert is this?"
Speaking from the dock, Johnston said: "It's a DJ concert. There's like five DJs at it. It's a big facility. We're organising a bus."
"So it's a rave?" the judge asked.
Johnston confirmed this was correct and in response to further questions advised it was intended to leave Maghera at 8pm, travel to Belfast and return around 4am.
The judge said: "No, it wouldn't be going on until 4am. Certainly not legally anyway in view of licensing laws."
The defence lawyer said the event would probably end about 2am, but he sought extra time to travel home.
The judge remained dissatisfied until Johnston's mother agreed to drive to Belfast and collect him at 2.30am. The bail terms were ordered to be relaxed for the relevant times.