Man will not stand trial over murder of labourer last year

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A judge has ruled that a Co Antrim man should not stand trial for the murder of a labourer in a seaside town almost two years ago.

John Keenan, 51 and of Broombeg view in Ballycastle, had been charged with the murder of Anthony McErlaine on January 28, 2016.

Anthony McErlaine, a father-of-two, was a labourer who had spent many years living over the border in the Republic of Ireland.

He had also worked on the building of the Channel Tunnel and had worked for a construction company in Dunloy, Co Antrim.

The 48-year-old was found in a flat in Broombeg view.

Defence lawyers for John Keenan had told Belfast Crown Court he had no case to answer.

His lawyers argued that he was asleep during the time when Mr McErlaine was assaulted and played no part in the attack on him.

However, the prosecution said that circumstanial evidence in the case, along with “lies” Keenan told to police at interview, were sufficient grounds to put him on trial.

On Friday Mr Justice Colton said there was “insufficent evidence” to do so.

He said Keenan should now be released from Maghaberry where he has been on remand following his arrest in England in May 2016.

The court was told there is a delay in a psyciatric report being finalised for co-accused Christopher Keenan, 35 and also of Broombeg View.

Mr Justice Colton said he would fix an arraignment hearing for January 12, 2018.