27 August 2005

Bail for man who denies bid to murder McCartney pal

Irish Independent

A MAN who allegedly was involved in the fatal fight at Magennis's bar, outside which Robert McCartney was killed, was released on High Court bail yesterday.

Lord Justice Sheil told the Belfast court that while there is a prima facie case against 36-year-old James McCormick, the seriousness of the charge "is not in itself a ground to refuse bail."

McCormick, from Friendly Street in the Markets area of Belfast, denies the attempted murder of Brendan Devine on January 30 during the incident when Robert McCartney (33) was fatally stabbed.

Denying his murder is 49-year-old Terence Davidson from Stanfield Place, also in the Markets area.

Gordon Kerr QC, prosecuting, told the court the case against McCormick was based on forensic and witness evidence after both Devine and a woman, known only as witness C, picked him out of a police line-up.

Mr Kerr said Mr Devine was interviewed by police and later identified McCormick as his attacker.

A forensic examination of the scene revealed McCormick's blood "at hand height" close to the entrance of the bar and on Market Street.

When McCormick was arrested in Birmingham, officers uncovered £6,700 (€10,050) and a British passport, which suggested he was considering using the cash in order to leave the jurisdiction.

Defence lawyer Joe Brolly claimed that McCormick had fled to Birmingham because of the IRA threat to shoot anyone involved in the bar fight.

He told the court the case against McCormick was "very problematic indeed" as Devine identified McCormick as his attacker but another witness said she saw only one man attacking Mr McCartney and Mr Devine.

Lord Justice Sheil released McCormick on his own bail of £2,500 (€3,750), two sureties, ordered him to sign at a police station and to surrender his passport.

Ivan McMichael

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