Pen­sioner’s al­leged killer may have used bag as mask

Belfast Telegraph - - NEWS - BY PAUL HIG­GINS

A MAN ac­cused of mur­der­ing a pen­sioner in his own home may have used a plas­tic bag as a mask, a court has heard.

Michael Owens (34) ap­peared at Antrim Mag­is­trates Court via vide­olink from Maghaberry prison. A pros­e­cut­ing lawyer said an up­date on pre­lim­i­nary foren­sic re­sults from a plas­tic bag gave “ex­tremely strong support” to the case and re­lated to the “mouth and han­dle of the bag”.

“There is no re­turn date at present for the out­stand­ing foren­sic re­ports,” she told the court, adding that these in­cluded “fin­ger­nail scrap­ings”.

Owens, from the Lis­burn Road in Gle­navy, is in cus­tody charged with the mur­der of pop­u­lar re­tired Antrim Gram­mar School teacher, Robert Flow­er­day, on Jan­u­ary 28 this year.

He is fur­ther ac­cused with the bur­glary of Mr Flow­er­day’s home on De­cem­ber 6 last year.

The body of the 64 year-old was found at his home on the Mill Road in Crum­lin on Jan­u­ary 28 af­ter po­lice called to his house be­cause a mem­ber of the pub­lic raised con­cerns.

Pre­vi­ous court sittings have heard claims that for­mer teacher Mr Flow­er­day (in­set) sus­tained in­juries “of the most hor­rific na­ture” and that there was a pre­lim­i­nary find­ing of a “pos­i­tive DNA” re­sult which al­legedly con­nects Owens “to the mur­der scene”.

In court yes­ter­day, de­fence so­lic­i­tor Tony Ca­her high­lighted that on a pre­vi­ous court date, a De­tec­tive Sergeant Walsh men­tioned a pre­lim­i­nary DNA re­port on “an item”which al­legedly con­nected Owens to the scene. “Now we are all told that it’s a bag,” he said, re­veal­ing that there were also “28 other items”.

Mr Ca­her told District Judge Nigel Brod­er­ick he had “real con­cerns” over a plas­tic bag which “ap­pears to have been utilised to act as a mask” and pointed out that this bag was “re­ferred to by another witness late in the day”.

Re­mand­ing Owens back into cus­tody, Judge Brod­er­ick ad­journed the case to May 29.

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