Murder accused claims bail breach alcohol purchase in Killinchy was as a 'thank you' to a friend

Murder accused claims bail breach alcohol purchase in Killinchy was as a 'thank you' to a friend

A 29-year-old man accused of murdering William 'Pat' McCormick admitted breaching bail by buying beer at a shop in the Killinchy area but claimed it was not for himself but as a "thank you" to a friend who has been "ferrying" him around.

David Gill, with an address listed as no fixed abode in the Comber area, is charged with murdering Mr McCormick on May 30, 2019.

The body of 55-year old Mr McCormick was discovered in a lake in Ballygowan in July 2019.

A woman is also charged with his murder and a number of other people are charged with offences allegedly linked to the death of the father-of-four.

At a court last year David Gill and the woman both pleaded not guilty to a murder charge and a trial is due to start on February 14.

Gill appeared at Newtownards Magistrates Court on Friday January 7 via a video link from custody in Belfast accused of breaching a bail condition.

The court heard after spending a number of months on remand the defendant was released on bail on December 20, 2021.

One of the bail conditions is that he 'does not enter premises licensed for the sale and consumption of  intoxicating liquor, on or off the premises and further shall not consume any intoxicating liquor at any time or at any place. He shall not possess any alcohol for himself or for any third person. He shall submit to a breathalyser examination if at any time the police consider it appropriate to require it.'

Objecting to bail, a police officer said the PSNI received information on January 5 that Gill had been observed purchasing alcohol around 1.30am on December 27, 2021 - a bail breach - in a shop and when police viewed CCTV on January 6 it showed Gill buying four tins of Budweiser.

A defence lawyer said the breach was accepted.

He said Gill had "no access to transport" when released on bail but a friend was helping him and "ferrying" him around to do messages and would not take "any recompense" from the defendant.

"Mr Gill bought him four tins of Budweiser as a thank-you".

He said Gill "just thought this was a nice gesture".

The lawyer said the defendant was sober when arrested for the breach of bail.

The defence lawyer said Gill had been arrested in July 2019 and was given High Court bail on November 25, 2020, but "surrendered himself" to custody on December 22, 2020, when an address "became unavailable" and he remained in custody until December, 2021.

The police officer said the bail condition had been breached "within a week" and it "shows his disregard for the conditions".

The officer said the report to police about the bail breach had not come from shop staff.

District Judge Mark Hamill refused the application to revoke bail but warned Gill that the PSNI were "obviously mustard keen to police this bail".