NewsCrime Desk

Paul McCauley murder accused 'has links to loyalist paramilitaries'

Paul McCauley
Paul McCauley

A man accused of the sectarian murder of a civil servant in Northern Ireland has links to loyalist paramilitarism, police said.

Paul McCauley, a Catholic, was left in a vegetative state after being beaten by loyalists in Londonderry's Waterside area in 2006. He died in June aged 38.

Matthew Brian Gillen, 28, was charged at Londonderry Magistrates' Court with the killing after investigators made audio recordings of him, his solicitor said.

A Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) detective told the court: "We believe Mr Gillen is still linked with loyalist paramilitarism and at the very least he is a supporter of it.

"This is based on a number of items found during a house search."

Father-of-one Mr McCauley was 29 when he attended a barbecue for a friend who was moving away from Northern Ireland. A gang of up to 15 people emerged from nearby bushes and attacked him and two friends as they were clearing up after the meal in the early hours of the morning. He suffered severe head injuries and died last summer in a care home.

Gillen's counsel Sean Doherty said the evidence upon which his client was charged was based upon audio recordings of the defendant.

He appealed successfully for bail.

"If he is granted bail there are no steps that he can take that would interfere with the integrity of that evidence.

"The evidence comes from his own mouth."

The detective told the court the assault on Mr McCauley was being treated as a sectarian attack and had been linked by the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC), a paramilitary ceasefire body established by the British and Irish Governments, to the Ulster Defence Association (UDA).

Gillen, from Abbeydale in Londonderry, is also accused of causing grievous bodily harm and attempting to cause grievous bodily harm.

He was dressed in a grey sweater and spoke only to confirm his name.

In opposing bail, the officer said if released Gillen could pose a significant risk to witnesses or prevent others from coming forward.

He cautioned that the defendant's personal safety would also be endangered - he has been threatened before. The senior officer also warned there was a risk of the suspect fleeing, since he worked across the UK and Europe.

Mr Doherty said his client had no criminal record.

Gillen was originally arrested in 2006. He was again detained last December and freed on police bail but returned to custody for more interviews recently.

His solicitor said he was a man of good character who had been in employment since the killing.

Magistrate Barney McElholm released him on bail of £2,000 and ordered that he reside at Abbeydale in the city.

He asked for his passport to be confiscated but the court was told he did not have it after a mix-up over his belongings.

He was ordered not to leave Northern Ireland and to report regularly to a police station near his home.

The accused was remanded on bail to reappear before the same court on April 21.