murder charge | 

Second man in court over ‘brutal execution’ of Antrim dad Liam Christie

Father-of-three Liam Christie, 43, was shot eight times at close range as he lay asleep in bed in his home in the Craighill area of Antrim in a murder described as a “brutal execution.”

Antrim murder victim Liam Christie

Paul HigginsSunday World

A second alleged gunman appeared in court today charged with the “brutal execution” of Liam Christie.

Appearing at Coleraine Magistrates Court by video link from police custody, 43-year-old Paul Armstrong was charged with two offences - the murder of Mr Christie and possessing two 9 mm handguns and ammunition with intent to endanger life on October 20.

While Armstrong, from Hawkswood Terrace in Antrim, confirmed he understood the charges, a detective sergeant said he believed he could connect the alleged killer to each of them.

Last Thursday 44-year-old Jonathan Patterson, from Whinburn Close, also in Antrim, was remanded into custody facing similar charges.

Father-of-three Liam Christie, 43, was shot eight times at close range as he lay asleep in bed in his home in the Craighill area of Antrim in a murder described as a “brutal execution.”

Flowers at the scene of the murder of Liam Christie who was shot at close range in Antrim (Credit: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker)

In court today, defence solicitor Ciaran Shiels said that although he was not applying for bail, “I have a couple of short questions” for the officer.

The sergeant confirmed that Armstrong was arrested on Friday, questioned throughout Saturday and that he denied involvement, claiming that “he had never been inside” the victim’s home.”

Mr Shiels put to the detective that “primarily, the nature of the evidence is in relation to CCTV” including footage from a petroleum station which shows “two hooded individuals making their way in the direction of the property.”

When the DS said there was also forensic evidence, the solicitor tried to question him further but Dep. District Judge Christopher Holmes told the lawyer unless he was making a full bail application, “I’m going to stop you there… I don’t think it’s appropriate in this stage of the proceedings, to engage in any further conversation with the officer.”

“We are straying into the area of a bail application and you are not making a bail application so I’m effectively shutting you down,” the judge told Mr Shiels who highlighted that throughout the series of police interviews, no forensic had been put to Armstrong.

Armstrong was remanded into custody and the case was adjourned to November 22.

When Patterson was charged last week, he did apply for bail and the court heard Mr Christie was shot with two different guns, twice to the head, twice in the chest, once in the face and “one under his jaw at close range where the firearm had been pushed against his jaw.”

According to the police case Patterson and another man, allegedly Armstrong, were captured on CCTV walking from Patterson’s home, heading towards the victim’s house at around 2.30am when local resident heard “loud bangs, like fireworks.”

The ambulance service had contacted police around 9am after the victim was found “lying in a pool of his own blood” and when police arrived, they noted a number of shell casings in the floor.

An officer said that according to local residents, the front door of the property was “routinely left unlocked and police noted there was no sign of forced entry,” adding that enquiries had uncovered CCTV of the area which police believe show the two alleged killers on their way to Mr Christie’s home.

The DS said she had seen the footage and in her view, one of the males was carrying a firearm although the defence suggested it could mistaken for a bottle of gin.

The footage has also captured comings and goings after the shooting with a suggestion that showed the defendants driving away, potentially to dispose of evidence and clothing.

When Patterson was arrested and interviewed, he denied involvement in the murder and denied it was him in the footage.

Submitting that “there’s a real risk to the public,” the DS said the killing was a “brutal execution” of a sleeping victim and police feared that if he was freed, Patterson was likely to reoffend, could interfere with witnesses or obstruct the ongoing and live investigation given the fact that neither his car, his clothing nor the firearms have been seized.

Patterson was also remanded into custody and the case was adjourned to November 22.


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