USA tests 'link man to murder'

Published Monday, 27 January 2014
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A man charged with a murder in east Belfast is allegedly linked through forensic tests carried out in America, the High Court has heard.

USA tests 'link man to murder'
George Gray was found dead at his Cregagh Road flat. (© Family picture)

Prosecutors said a US expert discovered a match with Alan Irvine's DNA on the handle of a blood-stained knife recovered after George Gray was killed.

It was also revealed that detectives investigating the violent death have now amassed more than 250 witness statements.

Mr Gray's body was discovered lying in a pool of dried blood at his Cregagh Road home in August 2012.

The father-of-three had suffered severe head and facial injuries.

Irvine, 30, of Rosebery Gardens, Belfast was subsequently arrested and charged with the murder.

A second man, 34-year-old James McVeigh, was also detained but died in police custody.

His death is believed to have been due to natural causes.

During a failed bail application by Irvine, the court heard how the 52-year-old victim's body was found in the living room of his flat.

The walls and furniture had been spattered with blood.

Prosecution counsel David McClean said broken furniture and CDs scattered around the floor showed signs of a struggle.

Irvine is allegedly linked though CCTV evidence placing him in the building at around the time of the murder, the court heard.

It was further claimed that footage depicted a man in similar clothing putting an object in a bin near the property.

A knife with the victim's blood on it was later recovered from the bin.

Mr McClean said Irvine's DNA has also now been matched to a sample found on the knife's grip.

He told the court: "The amount of DNA involved was too small for facilities here at the time. It was sent to a DNA expert in the US."

Defence lawyers argued that Irvine should be released due to delays in the case.

They claimed no proper explanation had been given for why a preliminary enquiry won't be held until March.

But Mr McClean contended that, given the scale of the investigation, progress was still being made.

"There are in excess of 250 witness statements. It's a large case," he said.

Refusing bail, Mr Justice Horner ruled that any delay had not yet tipped the balance towards releasing Irvine.

Pointing to the alleged risk of interference with the course of justice, the judge noted that clothing said to have been worn by the accused has never been recovered.

He said: "There is still an opportunity (for it) to be disposed of or otherwise concealed."

© UTV News
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