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Two more people to stand trial linked to Meli case

Christopher Meli was murdered in December 2015 Christopher Meli was murdered in December 2015
By Staff Reporter

TWO more people are to stand trial on offences arising out of the murder of Christopher Meli.
19-year-old Daniel McManus, of Springbank Drive, and Shannon McIIwaine (20), of Glenalina Park, both in West Belfast, appeared at Belfast Crown Court on Friday for a ruling on their case.
Mr Justice Colton dismissed applications by their legal teams to have charges of affray dismissed on the grounds of insufficient evidence.
The senior judge said that although they were not accused of engaging in violence on the night of Mr Meli’s murder in December 2015, he had come to the conclusion, “that their conduct taken at its height is sufficient to put each of the defendants on trial for affray.”
Dismissing the application, Mr Justice Colton added: “I am satisfied that the affray took place in a public place and in such a manner that a bystander or reasonably firm character might reasonably expect it to be terrifying.” Following his ruling, both defendants were formally arraigned on a single count that they “unlawfully displayed force and made affray” on December, 12, 2015.
Both replied “not guilty” and were released on continuing bail ahead of the start of their trial on September 9.
In January this year, six other people were returned for trial in connection with Mr Meli’s murder.
Three are charged with murdering the 20-year-old father-of-one, while their co-accused face other charges linked to alleged incidents on the evening.
Mr Meli was beaten to death at Doc’s Path in the Glasvey Close area of Twinbrook.
At the time police, believed up to 20 young people were involved in a number of violent incidents that culminated in his death.
All six accused appeared at Belfast Crown Court where they heard the trial could last up to 12 weeks.
The trio accused of murdering Mr Meli are Caolan Laverty (19) of Belfast Road in Glenavy, Stephen McCann (21) of Dundrinne Road in Castlewellan and 21-year-old Lee Smyth, who was living at an undisclosed address in County Antrim. All three pleaded not guilty.
Also charged with causing an affray were Gary Samuel Lewis (20) of Thompson House, Antrim Road in Belfast, 21-year-old Aaron Stilges of Laurelvale in Crumlin and Daniel McGrath (21) of Thornhill Crescent in Dunmurry.
All three denied this charge when it was put to them in court.

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