Northern Ireland

Pat McCormick murder: Engaged couple appear in court

Lesley-Ann Dodds, 21, from Mountcollyer Avenue in Belfast, in a prison van Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Lesley-Ann Dodds, 21, denies aiding and abetting and perverting the course of justice

An engaged couple has appeared in court charged in connection with the murder of County Down man Pat McCormick.

The body of the 55-year-old father of four from Saintfield was found at a lake in nearby Ballygowan on Tuesday.

David Gill, of Ballyglighorn Road in Comber, County Down, appeared at Newtownards Magistrates' Court on Friday, handcuffed and flanked by police.

The 26 year old denied a charge of murder and did not apply for bail.

His fiancée Lesley-Ann Dodds, 21, from Mountcollyer Avenue in Belfast, also appeared, charged with aiding and abetting and perverting the course of justice.

She denied involvement in the murder.

A detective inspector told the court she could connect both defendants to the charges.

Image copyright PSNI
Image caption Father-of-four Pat McCormick had been missing since 30 May

Mr McCormick was last seen alive in Comber on Thursday 30 May and police had carried out extensive searches for his body for several weeks.

The court heard there had been text message exchanges and phone calls between the trio before Mr McCormick met the couple at a flat on Castle Street in Comber on the night of 30 May.

It also heard Mr McCormick was anxious about the meeting as he feared he was being "set up".

The officer said CCTV footage showed Mr Gill leaving the property but Mr McCormick was never seen alive again.

Image caption Police were searching a lake at a former quarry when they found the body

Objecting to Ms Dodds' bail application, police said she had been searching for cheap holidays the day after the murder and there were concerns she may interfere with witnesses.

When asked by the defence, the officer accepted Ms Dodds had no physical involvement in Mr McCormick's murder or the disposal of his body.

The judge rejected bail due to the concerns raised by police.

Both of the accused are due to appear in court again in August.