Christopher Meli: Men admit manslaughter of father-of-one

By Kevin Sharkey

Image source, Family photo
Image caption,
Twenty-year-old Christopher Meli was murdered in December 2015

Two men have pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of a young father in west Belfast almost four years ago.

Christopher Meli, 20, was beaten to death at Doc's Lane in the Twinbrook estate in December 2015.

Caolan Laverty, 20, and Lee Smyth, 22, pleaded guilty to manslaughter after they had been charged with murder.

A murder charge against a third man was left on the books after he pleaded guilty to affray.

Stephen McCann, 22, of Dundrinne Road, Castlewellan, admitted the offence at court on Friday.

'Complex' case

Laverty, with an address at Belfast Road, Glenavy, also pleaded guilty to a charge of assaulting another man and actual bodily harm.

Smyth, whose address was listed as Maghaberry Prison, also admitted charges of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, fighting and affray.

Prosecutors told the court that a trial is no longer required.

Mr Justice Colton branded the case as "complex", but said he wanted to sentence as soon as possible as he was "conscious of the defendants, and the parents of the victim."

Laverty was released on continuing bail pending sentencing while Smyth was remanded back into custody.

A 21-year-old woman who pleaded guilty to causing an affray on the night of Mr Meli's death is also due to be sentenced following the men's guilty pleas.

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