Belfast Telegraph

Sunday Life

Co Antrim 'child cruelty couple' warned they could be killed in prison

 

Amanda and Christopher Fulton
Amanda and Christopher Fulton
Ciaran Barnes

By Ciaran Barnes

The couple accused of assaulting one of their children who suffered devastating brain injuries fear they could be killed by loyalist paramilitaries in jail.

Police visited Chris (30) and Amanda Fulton (31) while in custody in recent days to warn them of the UDA threat against their lives.

The terrified couple – who are facing child cruelty charges – have been told they could be killed behind bars or when they are released.

Chris has been threatened in Maghaberry Prison and Amanda has been threatened by inmates in Hydebank Wood women’s jail.

The Fultons, from Rockfield Gardens in the north Antrim village of Mosside, where the UDA has a strong presence, have also received a deluge of sickening threats and abuse online from members of the public.

Yesterday, lawyers for the couple failed in a court bid to bar the media from continuing to identifying them – but the case was adjourned to Wednesday.

The legal team argued the pair were already under threat and further media coverage identifying them would increase the risk of threats being carried out.

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The husband and wife are charged with causing GBH to one of their three young children on November 7, and cruelty to another.

A court heard on Friday one child suffered a fractured skull, a bleed on the brain, lacerated liver and broken ribs. That child is thought to have long-term brain injuries and may be permanently blind.

A police officer said the couple could not explain the injuries to their children, but accepted they had not been in the care of anyone else.

Police also told the court there were “high tensions” in the Mosside area because of the case.

Sunday Life understands the source of the threats to the Fultons are UDA units in their home village of Mosside.

The same North Antrim and Londonderry UDA unit was behind a spate of shootings in the area, the most brutal of which claimed the life of drug dealer Brian McIlhagga in 2015.

The 42-year-old was visiting a friend at her Ballymoney home when the gang entered the house, brutally assaulted him and shot him in the leg. He died at the scene from his injuries.

Security sources confirmed that cops called to Hydebank Wood prison on November 14 to tell Amanda Fulton of a threat against her from loyalist paramilitaries.

A detective spoke to Christopher Fulton at Coleraine Courthouse to inform him of a similar warning from the UDA.

It is understood there are particular fears for Amanda Fulton’s life inside jail following threats.

Sunday Life understands that the PSNI are treating both threats as “credible” and believe they have been issued by separate UDA factions in north Antrim.

Lawyers for the Fultons were in the High Court in Belfast yesterday seeking an order banning the media for naming their clients in connection with the case.

They highlighted threats made to the couple.

The couple have been bombarded with vile abuse and threats online.

“They’re pure evil” and “both need to burn” were among the comments.

“I hope they get tortured every single day in prison,” one man posted.

“Hopefully somebody meets them in a dark street or a badly-lit cell,” wrote another.

The torrent of abuse has alarmed the Fultons’ lawyers.

At yesterday’s High Court hearing, Mr Justice O’Hara declined to bar the media from identifying the couple and instead issued an interim order, which will be reviewed on Wednesday, preventing the names, ages and images of their three children being published.

The horrific injuries suffered by the Fultons’ youngest child were detailed during a hearing at Coleraine Magistrates’ Court on Friday.

The child was found to have a fractured skull, a bleed on the brain, a laceration to their liver and broken ribs.

The child has now been taken off life support and was able to breathe for itself, but was thought to have long-term brain injuries.

Another of the couple’s children was found to have discolouration on the back of their skull and ear.

A police officer said a medical expert believed the injuries to the baby were “non-accidental” and had not been caused during birth.

A defence barrister said the Fultons were “living every parent’s worst nightmare”.

He told the court threats had been made and showed evidence of threats that had been made against his clients on social media.

Bail was refused for both accused who were remanded in custody to appear again by video-link next month.

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