News Courts

Sunday 25 March 2018

Man (26) charged with murdering man whose body was found in car boot

Lesley-Anne McKeown

A 26-year-old man has been remanded in custody after appearing in court charged with murdering a man whose body was found in the boot of a car.

Wesley Harry Vance from Church Gate Studios in Comber, Co Down appeared before a sitting of Newtownards Magistrates' Court this morning.

Twenty-three-year-old Kyle Neil was stabbed multiple times before his body was put into the boot of a blue Ford Fiesta which was found in South Belfast on Sunday morning.

Vance, who was brought into the dock handcuffed to a prison guard, spoke twice to confirm his identity and that he understood the single murder charge against him.

Defence solicitor Denis Moloney told the court Vance had admitted his part in the alleged knife attack during police interviews but claimed he had acted in fear of his life.

He said: "The defendant made full, frank, clear and open admissions with regards to his involvement in this tragedy."

There was no application for bail.

Mr Moloney added: "The defendant has made it absolutely clear that he knows the family of the deceased who was a friend.

"This will hang over him like the sword of Damocles for the rest of his life."

Vance, who was dressed in a grey round-neck jumper and whose dark hair was closely cropped, stood in the dock staring straight ahead and with his head slightly bowed.

Relatives of the victim sat at the back of the court for the brief hearing.

Mr Neil's twin brother, Irwin, who clutched on to a cousin throughout the proceedings, broke down and wept when the court was told that Vance had offered deep sympathies.

Mr Moloney said: "My clear instructions from the defendant is to say to the family of the deceased, particularly his grandmother and brother, his deepest personal sympathies on the death of the deceased, who was a friend."

Members of Vance's family were also present at the front of the court.

Earlier, District Judge Mark Hamill had called for restraint.

The judge warned: "I do not want any outbursts from the public gallery. I do not want to have to clear the court."

A Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) detective constable told the court he believed he could connect Vance to the charges.

It was claimed that Mr Neil and Vance had been at a spring barbecue at the apartment in Mill Street in Comber, Co Down, and that a knife was produced.

Mr Moloney said his client had told police he felt under threat and that he was in fear for his life.

"The defendant felt like he was under attack," he added. "He did it in fear of his own life."

The court also heard that Vance had cited his "frenzied" state of mind when questioned about the removal of Mr Neil's body from Co Down to South Belfast, where a resident alerted police.

Mr Moloney added: "Knives kill and this is a total and absolute tragedy for which the defendant will carry this cross for the rest of his life."

The case was adjourned until May 8 when Vance is expected to appear again via video-link.

Afterwards, Mr Neil's relatives, who were visibly upset, hugged each other for support outside the court.

They declined to comment.

Press Association

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News