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Man was fearful over meeting at flat on night he disappeared, court told

UK News | Published:

A couple are facing charges in connection with the murder of William ‘Pat’ McCormick, whose body was found in a lake at a quarry in Ballygowan.

William McCormick

A murdered father-of-four had expressed fears that he was being set up prior to entering a flat where police believe he was killed, a court has heard.

Details of the events leading up to William “Pat” McCormick’s death were outlined to a district judge in Northern Ireland as an engaged couple faced charges in connection with the murder.

Relatives of Mr McCormick watched from the public gallery as David Gill, 26, from Ballyglighorn Road in Comber, Co Down, was remanded in custody charged with the 55-year-old’s murder.

Newtownards Magistrates’ Court heard that he replied “Not guilty” when the charge was put to him by police.

Gill, who appeared in the dock wearing glasses and a grey T-shirt, made no application for bail.

His co-accused, Lesley-Ann Dodds, who was led into the dock wearing a grey jumper minutes after her fiance was taken away, is accused of perverting the course of justice and aiding and abetting Mr McCormick’s murder.

The court heard that the police accept she was not “physically” involved in the murder or disposal of the body.

A bail application on behalf of the 21-year-old, from Mountcollyer Avenue in Belfast, who denies involvement in the murder, was rejected by judge Rosalie Prytherch.

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The court heard that the two accused, who both told the judge they understood the charges against them, have been subject to a threat since Mr McCormick’s disappearance.

Details about the case emerged during questioning by Dodds’ lawyer during her failed bail application.

David Gill and Lesley-Ann Dodds appeared at Newtownards’ Magistrates’ Court (David Young/PA)

A detective inspector told the court that Gill was inside the apartment in Comber when Mr McCormick arrived on the evening of May 30.

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She said that, while CCTV showed the murder-accused leaving two-and-a-half hours later, Mr McCormick was never seen alive again.

After a lengthy police search, his body was found by specialist divers in a lake at a disused quarry at nearby Ballygowan on Tuesday this week following an anonymous tip-off.

The detective told the judge that there had been a series of calls and texts between Mr McCormick and the two accused in the period before he arrived at the flat.

She said Gill had been using Dodds’ phone at the time.

The officer said Mr McCormick was fearful about the arranged meeting inside the property.

“He had been anxious about attending that address and feared he was being set up,” she said.

The detective objected to bail for Dodds on the grounds that she might interfere with witnesses or flee the jurisdiction.

She said the day after the murder Dodds was searching for “cheap holidays” on the internet.

The officer, who acknowledged that the accused was not “physically” involved in the murder and subsequent disposal, said Dodds had also breached her bail conditions when she was released following her initial detention in June.

She also highlighted that the couple were subject to a threat issued on June 5.

“That was pre-charge, so it may or may not have heightened, but it still exists,” said the detective inspector.

In making a case for bail, the accused’s solicitor highlighted that she had never been in any trouble with the law before.

He said she was on benefits and had no means of leaving the jurisdiction.

Judge Prytherch said she had taken all the objections raised by police into account in deciding to decline bail.

Dodds smiled at her lawyer before being led out of the dock.

Both she and Gill were remanded in custody to appear before the same court, via video-link, on August 2.

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