Northern Ireland

Victor Stewart accused refused bail for christening

A man accused of killing a dairy farmer in County Armagh has been refused compassionate bail to attend his niece's christening service.

Peter Joseph Moloney is charged with murdering Victor Stewart, 45, in 2008.

On Wednesday, Belfast High Court heard that Mr Stewart was found beaten to death at his isolated farmhouse on the Creevekeeran Road, Middletown.

Mr Moloney, 23, of Drumarg Park, Armagh, is also accused of stealing a safe from the victim's farmhouse.

During the bail application the judge asked how Mr Stewart had met his death. The court heard he had been beaten around the head while sitting in his chair

A barrister for Peter Joseph Moloney submitted that he could be temporarily released for the christening as the priest who is due to conduct the service would be with him at all times.

But Mr Justice Hart refused the application on the basis of a perceived risk of flight.

The suspect's father, also called Peter, 49, from Drumarg Villas, Armagh, faces charges of perverting the course of justice and withholding information in connection with the killing.

Charges were brought following a covertly recorded meeting last November between Moloney senior and a woman who is a key prosecution witness.

It has been claimed that the murder may have happened during a robbery gone wrong.

Prosecutors said the victim was thought to have kept money at his home.

During Peter Joseph Moloney's application for bail, his lawyers argued there was no identification or forensic evidence against him.

Questions were also raised over the reliability of the prosecution witness, with allegations that she had been drinking and taking drugs on the morning of her meeting with the murder suspect's father.

A defence barrister had disputed claims that Moloney may fail to appear if released due to him having moved to the south of England for a period.

It was claimed that he had gone to Bristol following the break-up of his marriage, rather than because of any police investigation.

But after receiving more information on the case Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan ruled today that Moloney should be refused bail.

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