11 May 2006

Five remanded in custody on sectarian murder charge


11/05/2006 - 11:31:46

Abuse was hurled at five teenagers as they appeared in court today accused of the sectarian murder of a schoolboy in the North.

All of the suspects, including one aged 15, are from Ballymena, Co Antrim, where Michael McIlveen was beaten to death.

The St Patrick’s high school pupil was battered with baseball bats in a town centre car park early on Sunday morning.

The 15-year-old had been chased half a mile from an entertainment complex, where he had gone with friends to buy a takeaway pizza.

With tensions high since the killing, there was a heavy police presence as the five charged went into the dock at Ballymena Magistrates Court.

Both Aaron Wallace (age 18), from Moat Road and Christopher Kerr (aged 19), from Carnduff Drive, replied “not guilty” when they were formally accused at Antrim Police Station, the court was told.

The 15-year-old suspect said “no” when charged, while the other two, both aged 17, made no reply, Detective Inspector Robert Paul said. None of these three can be named for legal reasons.

The officer said he could connect all five with the murder.

Michael managed to make his way home to the Dunvale estate after the attack, but was rushed to the Antrim Area Hospital, where he lost his fight for life a day later.

The murder has raised fears of further violence in Ballymena, a town riven by sectarian divisions.

As the five suspects were led from the court, remanded in custody until June 8, those tensions surfaced between the rival factions.

One woman had already muttered “scumbag” before walking out.

Another shouted: “I hope you rot in jail.”

A man stood up and said: “Scummy wee bastard.”

But on the other side of the public gallery others offered messages of support.

One woman said to one of the accused: “Keep your head up.”

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