Page last updated at 13:42 GMT, Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Man remanded over James Murray Belfast balcony death

Belfast flats
The accused said he did not know how James Murray had fallen

A man has appeared in court charged with murdering a teenager who fell to his death from a balcony in Belfast.

Mark Keenan, 26, from St James Street, Belfast, is accused of murdering James Murray early on Saturday morning.

The 19-year-old fell nine stories from a communal balcony to a courtyard at an apartment block at Kings St.

Belfast Magistrates Court heard that the defendant went to the police voluntarily at 1130 GMT on Saturday. He was remanded in custody for one week.

Mr Keenan told detectives he had been in a fight with James Murray and that Mr Murray had fallen from the balcony but he did not know how this had happened.

Under cross-examination from a defence lawyer, a detective sergeant said that Mr Keenan's account of the incident was the only one which the police had.

The prosecution opposed bail on the grounds there was a risk witnesses would be interfered with.

A 22-year-old woman who was arrested on Saturday was released unconditionally on Monday.

'Shock'

Mr Murray had grown up in Dublin. He came to Belfast in September to live with his natural father and partner.

A local priest said his family described him as a quiet young fellow who came to Belfast to improve his education.

Father John Forsythe, parish priest of Lagmore in west Belfast, visited the family home on Sunday evening.

"It is a dreadful shock for the family," he said.

"They are all just numbed. They had a quiet and dignified sadness. They are waiting for answers from the police."

Father Forsythe said the teenager had travelled from his home in Ballymun, Dublin, to live with his father and to study at the local technical college.

"He was a very quiet, young fellow who wanted to get more of an education. For the short time he lived here, he seems to have made friends," he said.

The priest said the family intended to bring James Murray's body to his Belfast home for a while before transferring it to Dublin for burial.



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