Body in the lake murder trial now set to be held in May

Body in the lake murder trial now set to be held in May

A SUGGESTED date for the start of the trial of six people charged in connection with the death of William 'Pat' McCormick (55), whose body was found in a lake at Ballygowan in the summer of 2019, has been set for May 23 this year.

The case was mentioned at the Crown Court in Belfast.

Mr Justice O'Hara said the trial is currently listed to last six weeks but he believed it may be shorter than that.

Not guilty pleas were entered at court last year and a trial date had previously been set for February 14, 2022, but the start of the trial has now been put back.

Mr McCormick, a father-of-four, was last seen in Comber on the evening of Thursday May 30, 2019.

David Gill (29), with an address listed as 'no fixed abode' in Comber and Lesley Ann Dodds (23), of Mount Vernon Road in Belfast, are both charged with murdering Mr McCormick on May 30, 2019.

William Gill (42), of Terrace View in Waringstown; Andrew Leslie (23), of Mourne Crescent in Moneyreagh; Jonathon Montgomery (23), of Castle Espie Road near Comber and Jack Rowden (21), of Hillmount Cottages, Moneyreagh, are all charged with 'withholding information'.

William Gill, Andrew Leslie and Jonathon Montgomery, are also charged with 'assisting' an 'offender'.

According to the charge sheet, whilst allegedly 'assisting' an 'offender', Andrew Leslie 'permitted access to the curtilage' of a property at Magherascouse Road near Ballygowan, 'for the purposes of disposing of the body of William McCormick'.

Jonathon Montgomery's 'assisting offender' charge sheets accuses him of 'allowing your garden to be used for the disposal of evidence' and he also allegedly helped 'replace van tyres'.

Jack Rowden faces two other charges of 'perverting the course of justice'.

According to the charge sheet he is accused of 'text messaging Andrew Leslie saying 'Don't go to the yard' in the belief that police were present at the premises which Mr Leslie was residing and he might be arrested or questioned by police in the course of their investigation'.

Another of Jack Rowden's charges alleges 'with intent to pervert the course of public justice did an act which had a tendency to pervert the course of justice, namely contacting...(a female)...'regarding her stated intention to report the fact that her bin was missing to the police'.