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Witness denies he ‘concocted a story’ over knife killing

A friend of a murdered man's son has denied that he “concocted” his story to blame the defendants for the killing in Dungannon.

It was while under cross-examination from defence QC Brendan Kelly at Belfast Crown Court that Patrick Bell, a friend of Kevin Hughes, denied that his claims of seeing Martin Murray with a knife was “a concoction... to make sure that one of the Murrays paid for this killing”.

He had earlier claimed that as he walked back to the Hughes’ home in the Lisnahull estate after an 18th birthday party, he saw Martin Murray with a six-inch knife “chanting ‘come on'”.

Martin Murray (23), from Windmill Drive; his cousin Liam Murray (24), from Windmill Court; 24-year-old Kevin Toye, from Windmill Court, all Dungannon, and 25-year-old William McDonagh, from Kew Gardens in Ballymena, all deny murdering 49-year-old Eamonn Hughes on September 14, 2008.

All four also deny attempting to murder Martina Donaghy and her daughter Emma, who were ran over as they tended to Mr Hughes and one charge of affray.

Kevin Murray (41), from Lisnahull Gardens, also Dungannon, and who is an uncle to the other two Murrays, denies attempting to murder Mr Hughes' son Kevin after he allegedly shot him with a crossbow bolt.

According to the Crown case, Martin Murray was the knifeman who stabbed Mr Hughes in the chest as he walked home from his daughter's birthday party and that Toye was the driver of the hijacked taxi which ran over the mother and daughter.

Yesterday Mr Bell told prosecuting lawyer Fiona O'Kane that as the group got close to a taxi, he could see Martin Murray standing at the front of it wielding a knife, Toye standing at the driver's door and Liam Murray standing at the passenger side along with another man he did not know.

“I seen Martin Murray with a knife, he had it held out chanting ‘come on' and I could see the light reflecting off the blade,” he said.

Mr Bell claimed that as he, Eamonn and Kevin Hughes moved towards them, he took off his belt “for protection” and saw Martin Murray swing the knife at Declan McKee, but he missed.

However, Mr Bell said he could not remember what happened or what he did after that because “I was in complete shock”, adding that the next thing he could remember was the men getting into the car but that one had “jumped on the bonnet” as it sped off.

He said that as the car came back “hogging the road,” he saw two women kneeling down beside a person lying on the road, but at that stage did not know who the three were.

“It came up that fast and just ploughed into the three people on the road,” Mr Bell said.

Asked by Mrs O'Kane if he could see who was in the car, Mr Bell told her “I could clearly see Kevin Toye driving the car when the car hit the bodies”, before he ran over and called for an ambulance.

Under cross-examination from Mr Kelly, it was suggested to Mr Bell that his group “didn't behave too well” in that they armed themselves and threw breeze-blocks and stones at the taxi.

However, Mr Bell said “that's not the way it happened”, but conceded that he was not sure if it had happened in the part of the incident he could not remember.

The trial continues.

Belfast Telegraph