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Bail conditions adjusted for defendant on charges linked to Meli murder

20-year-old Christopher Meli was found beaten to death in Twinbrook in West Belfast 20-year-old Christopher Meli was found beaten to death in Twinbrook in West Belfast
By Staff Reporter

A 21-year-old County Antrim man awaiting trial on charges linked to the December 2015 murder of father-of-one Christopher Meli has had his bail conditions altered.
A judge rejected an application to have Aaron Stilges’s electronic tag removed but agreed to shorten his curfew, starting it at 10pm instead of 8pm.
21-year-old Stilges, of Laurelvale in Crumlin, is one of eight young people facing trial this year on charges arising from the murder of 20-year-old Christopher Meli.
Mr Meli was beaten to death in Glasvey Close in Twinbrook in December 2015. At the time police believed up to 20 young people were involved in violent incidents that culminated in his death.
Stilges denies two counts of attempted grievous bodily harm, one count of affray, and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
At Belfast Crown Court on Friday defence barrister Des Fahy asked Mr Justice Colton to alter Stilges’s bail terms.
He asked for the bail address to be changed and for the tag and curfew to be removed.
A prosecution barrister said the conditions were imposed “due to other offending” and that “had it not been for the other offending, he would have been on the same bail conditions as the other accused.”
After being released from custody, having served an eight-month sentence for the “other offending” which included burglary with intent and aggravated vehicle taking and driving away – new bail terms were set. These included the tag, living at a bail address and an 8pm to 7am curfew.
A prosecutor said that when police called to the bail address on three separate occasions last week there was no response and Stilges was not present.
Mr Fahy said the reason for his client’s absence was because “that property is semi-derelict.” He asked that Stilges be allowed to live at his mother’s home. This request was granted.
Mr Fahy then asked for the removal of the tag and curfew. He cited these conditions as “more onerous that the other co-accused.” At this point the judge said this was due to Stilges’s further offending. The judge said he was not prepared to remove the tag and curfew.
Mr Fahy responded: “As we are moving into spring and summer, can you not push out the curfew to 10pm or 11pm?”
The prosecution did not object. The judge agreed to a new curfew of 10pm to 7am.

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