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Murder accused ‘responded to phone call that his partner was being assaulted’

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A man charged with murder had responded to a phone call that his partner was being assaulted, a defence solicitor claimed in court.

Karl Mark John Watson (32) of Glenview Drive in Limavady is accused of murdering 23-year-old Darren McGurk in March.

He is also charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice by allegedly trying to interfere with a witness.

Police had received a report that Mr McGurk had sustained a serious head injury following an assault at a house in the Glenbeg Walk area of Limavady.

He had been taken to hospital where he died a number of days later.

The accused had been originally charged with grievous bodily harm and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Following Mr McGurk’s death the defendant was further arrested and charged with murder.

The defendant, who was previously remanded in custody, appeared via video link from prison, at Coleraine Magistrates Court for a bail application on April 29.

A police officer opposed bail fearing the defendant could interfere with witnesses.

The officer said that whilst in police custody the defendant had phoned a person and asked him to tell Watson’s partner to “say no more”.

The policewoman said a bail address in Derry/Londonderry was opposed as it was still close to Limavady and the deceased’s brother was currently receiving counselling in the city as as a result of Mr McGurk’s death.

A defence solicitor said the “chief witness” in the case is the defendant’s partner and fiancee.

The lawyer told the court there had been a telephone call made to the defendant that his partner was being assaulted by her half-brother – the deceased – and that an altercation was ongoing.

The solicitor said Watson went to the property and, the lawyer alleged, Mr McGurk had his “hands around” the woman’s throat after which there was an altercation.

The lawyer said the following day Watson heard from the family of Mr McGurk that he “wasn’t well”

The solicitor said that although there had been an altercation, within a day or two of the incident there had been “other occurrences” which may have contributed to Mr McGurk’s death.

The lawyer said it was “a very difficult and very tragic situation” and said the defendant had expressed remorse many times.

Regarding the phone call from police custody, the solicitor said the defendant has been allowed to make a call and the reference to his partner saying no more was not an “exhortation” but was in the context of her having anxiety and that she was “suffering enough”.

Bail was refused by District Judge Peter King.

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