A man accused of the murder of Randalstown businessman Nelson Cheung has been granted bail.
Gary William Thompson (32), of Cunningham Way, Antrim, is one of three men accused of killing Mr Cheung and the attempted murder of his wife Winnie on a date between January 6-9.
A detective sergeant in the case told the court that there was no forensic evidence linking Thompson to the scene of the murder and that the evidence against him in the case is “circumstantial”.
He said that police have evidence that the two other men accused of Mr Cheung’s murder - Virgilio Augusto Fernando Correia (33), of Grant Avenue, Randalstown, and Christopher David Menaul (26), from Barra Street, Antrim - were at Thompson’s house prior to the murder taking place but that police have mobile phone evidence that Thompson was in Templepatrick.
The officer said the police case is that Thompson’s wife Lisa - who faces charges of handling a stolen iPhone belonging to Mr Cheung’s wife ‘Winnie’ and with perverting the course of justice by giving a false account to police regarding the movements of Gary Thompson - went to Templepatrick to pick up her estranged husband, while Correia and Menaul headed towards Randalstown, near where the murder took place at 00:08 the following morning.
Lisa Thompson returned from Templepatrick around 50 minutes after leaving and Gary Thompson was no longer with her, the officer said.
CCTV footage later showed Menaul and Correia return to Thompson’s house after the time the murder had taken place but there was no CCTV footage showing Thompson present at the scene.
The officer said that after a number of arrests had been made the following day, Thompson had gone to the police station to find out what was happening, during which it was discovered that his phone contained components belonging to Mrs Cheung’s phone.
District Judge Des Perry said: “There is not sufficient evidence in my mind to justify him being held in custody.
“With forensics as they are today, if you are at the scene of a crime, you are going to leave evidence.”
In relation to the evidence of Thompson’s alleged involvement in the case, the judge added: “There is a link running through it but it is not the evidence we have in relation to the other defendants.”
District Judge Perry said he expected that the case will eventually be heard in Belfast due to “the public profile” of the case.
The judge granted Thompson bail subject to him finding an address approved by police and Social Services outside Antrim and Randalstown.
He is subject to a curfew between 10pm and 7am, electronically tagged and banned from Randalstown and Antrim.
He was also ordered to report daily to the police station nearest to his bail address and to surrender his passport to police.
A Public Prosecution representative said the Crown would not be appealing against the judge’s decision.
Thompson was remanded to appear in person at Ballymena Magistrates Court on September 3 or in custody via videolink if bail has not been perfected by that date.