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mistress murder trial Belfast woman and fiancé to stand trial accused of murdering man she was 'having affair' with

The body of William ‘Pat’ McCormick was found in a lake in Ballygowan in July 2019

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Lesley Ann Dodds, accused of luring her lover to his murder, leaving court on an earlier occasion. (PIC PAUL HIGGINS)

Lesley Ann Dodds, accused of luring her lover to his murder, leaving court on an earlier occasion. (PIC PAUL HIGGINS)

Lesley Ann Dodds, accused of luring her lover to his murder, leaving court on an earlier occasion. (PIC PAUL HIGGINS)

A murdered man’s mistress and her fiancé were today ordered to stand trial accused of murder. 

While 28-year-old David Gill appeared at Newtownards Magistrates Court by video link from prison his fiancé Lesley Ann Dodds (22) appeared in person for the Preliminary Enquiry, the legal step necessary to elevate any case to the Crown Court.

The pair are jointly charged with the murder of William ‘Pat’ McCormick whose body was found in a lake in Ballygowan in July 2019.

Dodds, from Gortfin Street in Belfast, was allegedly having an affair with the 55-year-old while also being engaged to David Gill.

Three other men accused of with holding information or perverting justice on the same bill of indictment also had their cases returned to the Crown Court today.

The three are jointly accused of withholding information in that allegedly knowing a murder had been committed and having “information which was likely to secure or to be of material assistance in securing the apprehension prosecution or conviction of some person for that offence without reasonable excuse failed to give that information within a reasonable time to a constable.”

The three are:

• Gill’s older brother 41-year-old William Gill, from Terrace View in Waringstown;

• Andrew Leslie (22), from Mourne Crescent in Moneyrea;

• Jonathan Montgomery (22) from Castle Espie Road in Comber

The case against a fourth man, 21-year-old Jack Rowden, with an address c/o Hydebank YOC, was adjourned for a week after the court heard that he is self-isolating.

In addition to being accused of withholding information in relation to the murder William Gill, Leslie and Montgomery are also accused of assisting the alleged killers while Rowden faces two charges of perverting the course of justice.

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William Gill is alleged to have assisted by the “provision of advice".

Leslie is alleged to have “helped in the disposal of the body” of Mr McCormick and by permitting access to a property on the Magherascouse Road “for the purpose of disposing” of the victim’s body;

Montgomery is alleged to have assisted by “replacing a van tyre” and by “allowing his garden to be used for the disposal of evidence."

And Rowden is alleged to have perverted justice by texting Leslie to warn him “not to go to the yard” believing police officers were there and by contacting a woman who intended to report her bin as missing.

Previous hearings have heard claims that Dodds lured the victim to an address in Comber where he was last seen alive on 30 May 2019.

The 55-year-old father-of-four replied to a text from Dodds saying: "I think you're setting me up for a kicking" but tragically, he was never seen again and his body was recovered from a lake in Ballygowan on 9 July and Post-mortem examinations revealed he had sustained multiple rib fractures.

After seeing Gill’s van parked close to the flat, Mr McCormick rang police to say that he was in fear for his own safety according to the Crown case and they concede that while Dodds wasn’t at the flat during the attack, she was recorded on CCTV arriving about an hour after Mr McCormick.

It is also the police and PPS contention that the following day, Gill is seen coming and going from the flat and it’s then that he allegedly disposed of the body.

In court today, a prosecuting lawyer submitted there was a Prima Facie case against each of the accused which was conceded by the various defence lawyers.

The court clerk told the defendants that although not obliged to they had the right to comment on their respective charges and to call evidence to the PE on their own behalves but each of them declined the opportunity.

Extending legal aid to allow senior barristers to be instructed for the five defendants, District Judge Mark Hamill returned the case to Downpatrick Crown Court, sitting in Belfast.

Remanding David Gill back into custody and freeing the others in their own bail of £500, he listed their arraignment on 25 June and a PE for Rowden next Wednesday.

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