Uproar as pair appear in court accused of Eddie Meenan murder
There were emotional scenes in a Londonderry court when two men appeared jointly charged with murdering 52-year-old Eddie Meenan.
Mr Meenan's body was found in Creggan Street in early hours of Sunday morning.
Extra police officers were on duty both inside and outside the courtroom and dozens of relatives and friends of the victim packed into the public gallery for the brief remand hearing.
The defendants are Sean Ciaran Joseph Rodgers, 31, from Little Diamond in the Bogside area of the city and Derek Cresswell, 26, of no fixed abode.
They're jointly charged with the murder of Edward Jude John Meenan at Creggan Street on November 25.
In reply to the charge the defendant Rodgers denied the offence and the defendant Cresswell made no reply.
Before the defendants, both of whom were dressed in police custody issue grey tracksuits, were brought from the cells into the dock for the remand hearing, District Judge Barney McElholm said if there were any outbursts, he would have no hesitation in ordering the packed public galleries to be cleared.
"Before we start, obviously this is a very very serious matter. I do not know who is represented in the public galleries but it is my practice not to tolerate any bad behaviour, shouting out or any interruption to the proceedings", Mr McElholm said.
"These proceedings have to be conducted with dignity and decorum. A man has lost his life and another man, I have been told, has been seriously injured.
"Two people are facing the most serious charge any human being can face and I will have no hesitation to have this courtroom cleared if there are any disruptions", he added.
Two women wept in the public gallery when the defendants were brought from the cells below the courtroom into the dock.
The murder charge was read out to both defendants by a court clerk and both spoke only to confirm their name, age, address and that they understood the charge.
A detective inspector from the PSNI's Crimes Operations Unit told the District Judge that she could connect both defendants to the murder charge.
Solicitor Seamus Quigley for the defendant Rodgers and solicitor Michael McGee for the defendant Cresswell both told the District Judge that they were not making bail applications.
No details of the circumstances which led to and which caused Mr Meenan's death were given during the brief remand hearing.
When Mr McElholm remanded both defendants in custody to appear for a video link hearing in the same court on December 20, there was uproar in the courtroom.
Some people in the public gallery shouted abuse at the two defendants and several people surged towards the dock which was surrounded by police officers.
Meanwhile, detectives investigating the case appealed for three people who may have witnessed the incident to come forward.
Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell said: “I would like to speak to three people – two men and one woman – who I know were standing on the steps of a shop on Creggan Street at around 2.20am on Sunday November 25.
"They were then given a lift from someone driving a dark coloured, medium sized car at around 2.30am.
“I would appeal to them to make contact with me as they may be able to provide some vital information.
“Please contact me or any of my detectives on 101 quoting reference 244 of 25/11/18."
detectives have been granted an additional 36 hours to question a 17-year-old man arrested on suspicion of murder while a 19-year-old remains in police custody.
Belfast Telegraph Digital