Page last updated at 06:58 GMT, Friday, 26 June 2009 07:58 UK

'UDA involved' in McDaid murder

Kevin McDaid
Kevin McDaid was murdered in Coleraine in May

Police believe UDA members were involved in the mob murder of Kevin McDaid, the High Court has heard.

Prosecutors said 10 people were under threat as part of an alleged campaign to intimidate witnesses to the attack in Coleraine last month.

One of the men accused in connection with the killing of the 49-year-old was refused bail on Thursday.

David James John Cochrane, 48, of Windyhall Park, Coleraine, denies a charge of affray.

Mr McDaid, a Catholic community worker, was attacked by loyalists after a row over republican flags in the Heights area on 24 May.

Potential witnesses are reluctant to give evidence and fearful for their lives and the lives of family members
Prosecuting barrister

A prosecuting lawyer said it was alleged that Mr Cochrane was part of a group shouting sectarian abuse.

Another Catholic man, Damien Fleming, was also attacked and seriously injured as violence flared after Rangers won the Scottish Premier League football title.

Opposing Mr Cochrane's application to be released, the lawyer claimed there was a risk of possible interference with witnesses.

He said police had informed six witnesses their lives were at risk "as a direct consequence of the events surrounding the murder of Mr McDaid and the attempted murder of Mr Fleming".

"Police have also received complaints from four further witnesses that they have personally been threatened and told to leave Coleraine or not to give statements to police," he said.

With claims of paramilitary chanting during the attack having previously been made, the prosecution lawyer added: "It is further the police view that UDA members were involved in the murder of Mr McDaid, the attempted murder of Mr Fleming and the wider incident.

There is nothing to suggest he has any connection to an organisation, band or faction
Defence barrister

"This has caused widespread fear in the local area. One of the direct effects is that potential witnesses are reluctant to give evidence and fearful for their lives and the lives of family members."

He claimed that releasing Mr Cochrane would further heighten tensions ahead of the imminent marching season.

A defence lawyer said his client strongly denied involvement.

He said conflicting accounts had been given by two witnesses: one claimed Mr Cochrane was wearing a white Rangers top while the other stated he had a red Liverpool shirt on.

The defence barrister told the court the accused insisted he had stayed in the bar from where it is alleged the mob set out on the day of the murder.

Arguing that the case could take two years to get to trial, he added: "There is nothing to suggest he has any connection to an organisation, band or faction."

'Sectarian overtones'

After hearing both sides Mr Justice Hart said there were "sectarian overtones" to the attack.

Refusing bail, the judge said: "It is believed that a terrorist organisation was involved or members of such an organisation were involved in the events of that day.

"It is significant that a number of witnesses are alleged to have been threatened, either directly or indirectly, believe that they are at risk and have received notification from police that threats to their lives have been made.

"The extent of the events themselves and the nature of the threats to so many people all suggest there are a number of people who may well be determined to intimidate actual or prospective witnesses."



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