Woman accused of assisting offenders in ‘extra-marital affair’ murder case is granted bail

A woman accused of preventing any attempt to warn a man allegedly murdered over an extra-marital affair is to be released from custody, a High Court judge ruled today.

Wednesday, 17th February 2021, 3:02 pm
The area where Steven Peck was found

Easther McCook, 46, was granted bail on conditions including a prohibition on entering Ballymoney, Co Antrim, where Steven Peck was targeted.

Her two sons also face charges over their suspected involvement in the fatal attack.

Mr Peck, 33, was discovered with a serious head injury near the Joey Dunlop Leisure Centre on January 3 this year.

Three men, 54-year-old David Austin, of Cherry Gardens in Ballymoney, and brothers Stephen McCook, 28, and Brian McCook, 24, both from Urbal Road in Devock, were arrested and charged with his attempted murder.

Detectives launched a murder inquiry after he died in hospital a week later.

Police believe Mr Peck had been in a relationship with Austin’s wife, and was attacked after being lured to what he thought was a meeting with her.

Easther McCook, also of Urbal Road, denies a charge of assisting offenders by providing a false alibi and interfering with witnesses in connection with the investigation.

She allegedly stopped any attempt to warn the victim by remaining with the woman he had been seeing, a previous court heard.

Her application for bail had been put on hold amid efforts by police to locate Mr Peck’s missing phone.

Prosecutors opposed Easther McCook’s release from custody, claiming it could hinder the police probe.

At one stage Mr Justice Scoffield was told others allegedly fear her as the person who “controls” her family.

But defence lawyers disputed those assertions and argued that she is a vulnerable individual.

The court also heard McCook’s husband needs round-the-clock care due to being paralysed in a motorcycle accident.

Granting bail today, the judge ordered her to stay out of Ballymoney.

He imposed a further ban on contacting any co-accused or witnesses in the case.