Man in court accused of threatening to kill girlfriend he is accused of murdering

Laura Marshall

Laura Marshall

A Gilford man already in custody accused of his girlfriend’s murder was back in court today charged with threatening to kill her almost two weeks before she was found dead.

Standing in the dock at Craigavon Magistrates Court in a white polo shirt and grey track suit bottoms, 36-year-old Gary O’Dowd confirmed that he understood the two charges against him.

Gary O'Dowd arriving at a previous court hearing

Gary O'Dowd arriving at a previous court hearing

O’Dowd, from the Knocknagore Road in Gilford, is charged with making a threat to kill “intending that Laura Marshall would fear it would be carried out” and with assaulting her on March 23 this year.

While a police constable gave evidence that he believed he could connect O’Dowd to those charges, a prosecution barrister told the court there would be an application to “marry up” the two new charges with the murder charge he currently faces.

O’Dowd is accused of killing 31-year-old Miss Marshall on a date unknown between March 30 and April 4 this year.

The body of the popular dental nurse, described as “bubbly, fun loving and full of life” by her friends, was found by a maintenance man in a block of flats on Victoria Street in Lurgan on Sunday April 3.

Police launched a murder investigation following a post mortem examination and O’Dowd was arrested that evening, denying involvement in his partner’s death throughout a week of police questioning.

Giving evidence to the court when O’Dowd first appeared accused of the murder two weeks ago, a detective sergeant outlined how Miss Marshall was found in the bath with a deep cut to her wrist.

The wash hand basin had been wrenched from the wall and it was the subsequent leak which alerted the workman who made the macabre discovery said the detective, describing how the bathroom was a “violent scene” with a “significant amount of blood pool near the sink and some in the bath”.

He also told the court there was bruising all over the victim’s body and that the pathologist Professor Crane said there “may be indication of forced sex.”

The detective added that a police doctor took a penile swab from O’Dowd and “bruising was noted that he could not account for.”

Revealing how there had been repeated allegations of domestic abuse made against O’Dowd but that each time Miss Marshall retracted her statement, the detective told the previous court the last incident occurred on March 23 when she had phoned 999 claiming she had been head-butted by O’Dowd and choked by him until she almost passed out.

He allegedly told her: “I will kill you. I will ruin you. I will stab you in the temple.”

Within days of that alleged incident, Ms Marshall was found dead.

He revealed that on the day of her death, she had exchanged more than 40 texts with Gary O’Dowd.

One she sent her alleged killer said: “I miss you. I keep falling out of your side of the bed. I’ll love you forever,” the court heard leading the officer to comment that “she clearly wanted him back.”

“This was a typical, sad, depressing domestic violence cycle,” he added.

Unsuccessfully applying for bail at the last court, defence lawyer Gavyn Cairns argued that his client had alibis for the days leading up to Ms Marshall’s death, that there was no forensic evidence to connect him to the crime, that the CCTV at the flats complex showed no sign of him coming or going at any time and that there was no eyewitness.

The police officer confirmed that Gary O’Dowd had consistently denied any involvement in her death over the course of 25 interviews.

Bail was refused however and O’Dowd was remanded to appear again next month.

In court on Friday, O’Dowd’s defence solicitor said he was not applying for bail as the alleged killer is in custody “on other matters.”

Granting legal aid, District Judge Des Perry remanded O’Dowd into custody to appear again on May 6 via videolink.