Northern Ireland

Lee Smyth: Christopher Meli murder accused has bail revoked

Christopher Meli Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Christopher Meli was murdered in west Belfast in December 2015

A murder suspect had his bail revoked by a senior judge who commented that the accused "seems to be incapable" of complying with conditions imposed.

Lee Smyth, 21, is due on trial later this year on charges arising from the December 2015 murder of west Belfast father-of-one Christopher Meli, 20).

Mr Smyth committed further breaches of his bail conditions this month.

Belfast Crown Court heard Mr Smyth has been "in and out of custody for a very substantial period" since his arrest.

A Crown prosecutor told the judge that the latest breaches since he was last granted bail on 18 January were against a "constellation" of previous breaches.

On that occasion, Mr Smyth was ordered to reside at an address in County Antrim and a number of conditions were imposed - including observing a 19:00 to 07:00 GMT curfew, being tagged, and allowing only family members in his flat.

'Issues of disorder in the locality'

The prosecutor outlined a series of breaches carried out at this address this month, and asked the judge to revoke his bail.

Telling the court there have been "issues of disorder in the locality", the prosecutor said this included a 999 call being made to report Mr Smyth being assaulted by three men in the street, and a report to police of a separate fight outside the flat involving two men.

Mr Smyth breached his bail by having three young people in his flat who, he claimed, were his cousins but who the Crown believe were not relatives, and by not being present in the flat during the curfew on several occasions.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Lee Smyth is one of three people charged with the murder of Christopher Meli

Telling the court it was the Crown's view that Mr Smyth's behaviour on bail warranted his bail to be revoked, the barrister said: "He has amply proved to the court he will not abide by any conditions the court will impose."

A defence barrister addressed the incidents in and around Mr Smyth's flat, and pointed out that, at no stage, was his client arrested or charged with any offence, adding: "He is not responsible for the conduct of people in the street who may know him."

The barrister said that while police were "keeping a close eye on this address and Mr Smyth", they had also displayed a "tolerant attitude".

Murder trial

Regarding the curfew breaches, the barrister revealed it was Mr Smyth's case that he was at home and that he had been experiencing difficulties with his electronic tag.

He did, however, accept that his girlfriend has been in the flat.

Describing Mr Smyth as "a young man, living on his own, away from family and away from his home", the barrister said that while some of the breaches are accepted, he cited his client's bail conditions as "restrictive".

The barrister urged the judge not to revoke Mr Smyth's bail, and noted that as the murder trial has been scheduled for September, this would mean "a lengthy period of time this young man would have to spend in custody".

The judge spoke of "multiple, multiple" breaches by Mr Smyth in the past, and said "the risk of reoffending remains".

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