Northern Ireland

Pat McCormick: Woman 'lured victim to Comber flat'

Pat McCormick Image copyright PSNI
Image caption Father-of-four Pat McCormick went missing on 30 May

A woman allegedly lured a murder victim to her flat by claiming she had left her fiancé, and co-accused, for him, the High Court has heard.

The body of 55-year-old Pat McCormick was found in a lake in Ballygowan, County Down, in July.

Prosecutors claimed Lesley-Ann Dodds, 21, was in a relationship with him.

They told the court she messaged Mr McCormick to come to an apartment in Comber where he was last seen alive.

Ms Dodds, of Mountcollyer Avenue in Belfast, denies charges of aiding and abetting Mr McCormick's murder and perverting the course of justice.

Her co-accused, David Gill, 26, from Ballyglighorn Road in Comber, is charged with carrying out the actual murder.

Details emerged as Ms Dodds was granted bail.

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

Mr McCormick, a father-of-four, from Saintfield, County Down, went missing on 30 May.

Post-mortem examinations revealed he had sustained multiple rib fractures, a judge was told.

According to the prosecution, Mr McCormick had been in a relationship with Ms Dodds, describing her as his girlfriend, while she was also engaged to Mr Gill.

'Trying to set me up'

On the day of his disappearance, the victim was allegedly contacted by Ms Dodds and asked to come to a flat she stayed at in Comber.

A prosecution lawyer claimed a text message stated: "Please come and stay at mine, I have left him for you."

Mr McCormick was said to have replied: "I think you're trying to set me up for a kicking."

As he approached the flat that night, the victim phoned police to express his fear after seeing Mr Gill's van parked nearby, the court heard.

CCTV footage also captured him walking up to the apartment.

"This was the last time Mr McCormick was seen alive," the prosecutor said.

The prosecution said CCTV evidence showed Mr Gill arriving and entering the property approximately an hour before Mr McCormick turned up.

Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Lesley-Ann Dodds, pictured at a previous hearing, denies aiding and abetting and perverting the course of justice

The footage also allegedly depicted Mr Gill leaving later that night, with evidence to suggest he returned again a number of times the next day.

"Police believe it's at this point that the injured party's body is removed from the flat and disposed of," the prosecutor said.

It was claimed Ms Dodds was in Mr Gill's home at the suspected time of the murder.

Asked what allegedly connects Ms Dodds to the killing, the prosecutor said: "Police believe messages between the applicant and the injured party asking him to go to her flat, rather than her being present."

Opposing Ms Dodds' bail application, the prosecution expressed fears she may attempt to flee.

A defence lawyer argued there is no evidence that Ms Dodds was physically involved in either Mr McCormick's killing or the disposal of his body.

The lawyer said his client denies being in possession of her mobile at the time the texts were sent.

"Who's to say the person who murdered Mr McCormick isn't sending messages from her phone," he added.

Granting bail to Ms Dodds, the judge banned her from entering Comber, Newtownards and a number of surrounding areas.

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