The trial of a man and woman accused of murdering a man in Craigavon has heard from the police officer who discovered the victim’s body in a blue recycle bin.
The constable’s statement was read to the jury sitting on the trial at Belfast Crown Court of Stephen Thomas Hughes (29) and Shaunean Boyle (25).
They are both jointly charged with Owen Creaney’s murder over two years ago and blame each other for the attack.
The officer said he found the wheelie bin at the rear of Hughes’s property at Moyraverty Court in Craigavon on Saturday, July 5, 2014.
When he opened the lid of the blue recycle bin, he said that it was “overflowing with cardboard and paper’’
After moving some of the material out of the way, the constable said: “I saw a human foot and I saw a human hand with a silver wedding band on one of the fingers.
“I removed more rubbish and a human torso come into view. The body appeared to be compacted in.”
The court heard that the officer’s statement was put to Stephen Hughes during the course of his interviews at Antrim police station
He was asked by a detective: “Did you squash his body down into the bin?’’
Hughes replied: “The two of us did. We just pushed him in.’’ Asked if they “forced him down’’ into the bin, the suspect replied that he was “pushing with my two hands’’.
Hughes was asked: “Did you at any time get into the bin?’’ He replied: “No. Just pushed him down.’’
Under further questioning, Hughes said he helped Boyle dispose of the body as “I wanted to protect her as I know what it is like to lose your children. I just freaked out. I didn’t know what to do. I was telling her to phone an ambulance”.
The court heard that after police were alerted by a witness that Mr Creaney was dead, officers called at the house and there was a delay in Hughes answering the door. When Hughes eventually opened the door, his hands were covered in Magnolia paint.
During his interviews, he said that he was painting over “speckles of blood’’ from a wall under the downstairs in the hall.
The detective told Hughes: “The smell of bleach was so strong that the police could smell it from the outside the front door. Were you not at least concerned for your friend Fonzie who was lying upstairs, an alcoholic disabled man? You denied him health care, you denied him a chance to recover from the injuries he received in the assault. Why was that?’’
Hughes made no reply.
The detective asked: “Did you shower the deceased? Did you give him a shower because he was stinking the place out? Did you give him a shower because he was smelling the place out because he had wet himself?’’
Again Hughes made no reply to the question.
“What happened here Stephen?,” asked the detective. “Did you just snap? Was something said? Did you just snap and go mad and before you knew it you had done this to Owen? Was that what happened?’’ Hughes made no reply.
“Did you do the assaulting? Did you stamp on his face and head? Did you lose your temper?’’ asked the investigation officer.
Hughes again made no reply.
Earlier, the jury of six women and five men heard that Hughes’s Sonia Experia mobile phone was examined by an expert who found that during the 20 hours Hughes claimed to police he had been sleeping his phone was active with text messages and phone calls.
Two of the text messages were from his co-accused Boyle. One read: “Is he still alive?’’ Another said: “Where is Fonzie’s phone?’’
Asked by the detective if he remembered receiving the text messages, Hughes made no reply.
The detective asked: “There are 57 different things on your phone and you are telling me you were sleeping. What is the truth of the matter?’’
Again, Hughes made no reply.
Both Hughes - whose address was given as HMP Maghaberry and Boyle, from Edenderry Park, Banbridge, Co Down - were remanded back into custody.