A court heard that a suspect in the murder of Roy Reynolds of Newtownabbey asked his mother’s former lover to bring electric hedge clippers and plastic sheeting to his house at 3 a.m.
On Monday morning, a member of the public discovered the 54-year-old, known as ‘Fobby,’ in shallow water at Woodburn Reservoir in Carrickfergus. He had been injured in a “barbaric” way.
Following their appearance in Laganside Magistrates Court yesterday, two men were remanded in custody in connection with the murder.
Mr Reynolds was murdered between March 27 and 28, according to Michael Campbell 32, who lives on East Way in Newtownabbey.
Co-accused Robert Mervyn Fulton 69, of Ballyclare’s Belfast Road, is charged with helping an offender. This accusation relates to assisting with the deceased’s body disposal.
The court was informed, that a member of the public witnessed a male pulling a naked body out of a residence and putting it in the boot of a silver car on Derrycoole Way in Rathcoole.
The witness gave authorities the vehicle’s registration number, which led to an investigation.
Officers stopped a silver vehicle just before 7 a.m. in the Clonmore Green area of Rathcoole on Monday and arrested the two suspects.
When the car was stopped by police, the driver was identified as Fulton, with Campbell in the passenger seat with blood on his face and T-shirt, according to a detective inspector.
Blood was discovered on the car’s bumper, as well as a considerable amount of blood in the boot.
Fulton eventually admitted to police that a third individual was present. He had no idea if he was dead or alive when he was abandoned at a Carrickfergus dam.
There were clear traces of a disturbance when Campbell’s flat was investigated, with bloodstains running from the front to the back.
Bloodstaining was discovered on a knife and a screwdriver.
On a sofa in the flat, an electric hedge clipper was also located.
During the search, a woman walking her dog spotted a partially naked person in shallow water, with only one shoe and pants around the ankles.
A breezeblock was positioned next to the body.
His fingerprints identified him as Mr Reynolds.
Campbell made admissions during extensive interviews but maintained that he acted in self-defence.
“Mr Fulton, during the interview, admitted that the hedge clippers belonged to himself, and he had been asked to bring them before to trim hedges… but he believed it was a good idea to bring them at 3 am, which he has done,” the detective said. He was also asked to bring plastic sheets, he said.
“When questioned why the plastic sheeting was requested, he stated he had heard disruptions in the background of the phone call and suspected Mr Campbell was having an argument with his partner at the time.”
Fulton had been in a relationship with Campbell’s mother, according to the court, and while that relationship ended, “he may still be infatuated with her.”
The nature of the victim’s injuries was not disclosed in court, but the investigator stated the injuries were “substantial” after a two-day post-mortem examination.
Bail was objected to because of the victim’s “barbaric injuries.”
Police also expressed concern about possible witness influence, saying, “Given the incident that has occurred, individuals are afraid of making written statements.”
The court heard that the community was angry, and that graffiti had surfaced in the Rathcoole area recently.
Mr Campbell’s lawyer claimed his client had urged him to “express total remorse in open court for the incident that occurred between himself and the deceased.”
He went on to say, “In fact, my understanding is that they knew each other and their extended families knew each other.”
“Progressing this matter will take some time… He does have a workable trial defence.”
Fulton’s lawyer claimed that his client was a “disabled person,” and that because of this, an appropriate adult had been present during his questioning.
Fulton’s lawyer also stated that he was “afraid of Michael Campbell.”
“Mr Fulton exists at Mr Campbell’s beck and call,” he told the court.
“Mr Campbell has stayed occasionally in Mr Fulton’s home, as has his brother, a man from Scotland … and Mr Fulton can do nothing about it. He is stuck with these monsters around him.
“At all stages, he has been in terror of Mr Campbell, and with very good reason.”
District Judge Mark McGarrity said: “Given what I’ve heard about the case against Mr Campbell, I don’t consider any condition of bail that could be imposed to meet the risk of reoffending.”
“At all times, he has been terrified of Mr Campbell, and rightly so.”
“Given what I’ve heard about Mr Campbell’s situation, I don’t consider any condition of release that could be imposed to satisfy the risk of reoffending,” said District Judge Mark McGarrity.
“I accept that Mr Fulton’s case is different…,” Judge McGarrity said in refusing Fulton bail. However, his role in the cover-up and attempts to divert attention away from Mr Campbell’s actions is serious.”
The matter was adjourned until April 29 for further review. Both men were placed into custody.