Northern Ireland

Court told Damien Duffy murder case is 'without precedent'

Paul Walsh
Image caption Paul Walsh was released due to "procedural issues" with the murder charge

A man has appeared before Lisburn Magistrates Court charged with murdering a man in Belfast in 2001.

Paul Patrick Walsh from Laurelbank in Dunmurry is accused of murdering Damian Duffy after a nightclub row.

The court heard that he was charged with the murder at the time but it was not proceeded with and was left on the books of Belfast Crown Court.

He was released after the PPS withdrew Wednesday's charge and said the case would be brought back to Crown Court.

A representative of the Public Prosecution Service told the court the case was "without precedent" and had raised "procedural issues".

'Mob'

Mr Walsh was arrested after the police reopened its investigation into Mr Duffy's murder earlier this month.

A detective sergeant told Lisburn Magistrates Court that police believed Mr Walsh had been part of a "mob" which had attacked Mr Duffy and his friends after a verbal exchange inside a west Belfast club had escalated outside the building.

Image caption Damien Duffy, 18, was beaten and stabbed in 2001

It was alleged that Mr Walsh had stabbed the 18-year-old in the lower abdomen and groin area.

Mr Duffy died of his injuries two weeks later.

The court heard that witnesses in the case had matured and now wanted to present their evidence having earlier declined to do so.

This was said to include one witness who claims to have overheard Mr Walsh admit to the stabbing.

'Difficult situation'

A defence solicitor argued that as there was already a murder charge on the books of the Crown Court, the Magistrates Court was not the correct place for the case to be heard.

After an adjournment and some legal consultation, a PPS representative confirmed that after "careful consideration", Wednesday's murder charge would not go ahead.

He added the matter would "be brought back to the Crown Court on a date in the near future".

The district judge said it had been a "difficult situation technically" and the course adopted by the PPS was "entirely appropriate".

She told Paul Walsh the murder charge was being withdrawn and he was being released.

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