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Man accused in Meli murder denied bail over several breaches

Father-of-one Christopher Meli was beaten to death in December 2015 Father-of-one Christopher Meli was beaten to death in December 2015
By Staff Reporter

A Belfast man awaiting trial for the murder of 20-year-old Christopher Meli was refused bail on Friday due to concerns “he cannot and will not” abide by any conditions imposed.
Lee Smyth is due to stand trial later this year on offences arising from the murder of the West Belfast father-of-one, who was beaten to death in Glasvey Close in Twinbrook in 2015.
At the time police believed up to 20 young people were involved several violent incidents that culminated in his death.
Mr Smyth and several co-accused have been returned for trial at Belfast Crown Court in October. On Friday 22-year-old Smyth made a fresh application for bail from Maghaberry Prison.
However, due to what the prosecution called a “lengthy back history” of Mr Smyth being granted bail then breaching his condition “on multiple occasions”, the application was opposed by the prosecution.
Barrister Tom McCreanor, defending Mr Smyth, made the application to Mr Justice Colton – and said that while it was acknowledged there have been “difficulties” with bail in the past, he said they were linked to a previous bail address allocated to Mr Smyth.
Mr McCreanor said Mr Smyth was returned to custody four months ago, but asked that he be released and bailed to an address which was not disclosed in court, but which is close to where Mr Meli was killed.
The barrister said that while on bail there had been no “chance encounters” or “accidental contact” with witnesses. He said the new address put forward would be, “more appropriate for him to reside.”
Mr McCreanor concluded his application by saying there was “no motivation” on Mr Smyth’s part to interfere with the investigation or pending trial.
Objecting to Mr Smyth being granted bail, a prosecution lawyer said the proposed address was unsuitable as it was “around 1.1 miles” from the murder scene, and spoke of “difficulties in the local community” that have arisen since Mr Meli’s death.
The prosecutor said Mr Smyth had breached conditions of bail “on multiple occasions” and said: “The issue of re-offending is the core of the court’s consideration.”
“Quite simply, he has displayed that he either cannot or will not comply with conditions set by the court and the crown has no confidence he will abide by any conditions, given the history of bail.”
The prosecutor also spoke of issues at Mr Smyth’s previous bail address.
Noting the past breaches, the judge said he was not satisfied a change of address would make much difference.
Saying he was also not satisfied Mr Smyth would comply with bail conditions and raising concerns about re-offending, Mr Justice Colton said: “The application is refused.”

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