A jury presiding over a murder case has been told that a man was subjected to a “deliberate and frenzied attack” and was then “unceremoniously dumped” in a wheelie bin after taking two days to die.
Two people are currently standing trial for the murder of Lurgan man Owen Creaney (40), who was cleaned, showered and placed on a sofa in an upstairs bedroom of a house where two children were living.
It took Mr Creaney two days to die from the severe injuries he sustained in July 2014.
His body was then dumped into a green recycling bin, with waste items placed on top of his remains.
A state pathologist concluded that the deceased died as a result of blunt force trauma to both his chest and head.
Mr Creaney’s injuries included a total of 15 fractured ribs and a broken breastbone, as well as bleeding of the brain and tears to the brain.
Stephen Thomas Hughes (29) and his 25-year old co-accused Shaunean Boyle have been jointly charged with Mr Creaney’s murder, and blame each other for the fatal attack.
At the time of the murder, the pair were living at a house at Moyraverty Court, along with two young children.
The jury consisting of seven women and five men at Belfast Crown Court was informed that following the fatal attack, Lurgan police were alerted to the presence of a body at a house in Moyraverty Court.
When they called to the property, they noticed evidence of a clean-up.
Mr Creaney, of Victoria Place in Lurgan, was last seen getting out of a taxi with Hughes and Boyle in the early hours of Thursday July 3.
It is the Crown’s case that he was later subjected to an assault, dying two days later.
Crown prosecutor Liam McCollum QC told the jury that both Hughes and Boyle admitted being present when Mr Creaney was beaten, but that each of them have blamed the other for carrying out the attack.
Mr McCollum said it was the Crown’s case that both of the accused had murdered Mr Creaney, and that they had “intended to inflict at least very serious injuries on him”.
His remains were discovered on Saturday July 5.
When officers had called to the house, it was noted that windows were open, there was a mop and bucket, and a strong smell of bleach.
The presence of paint was also noted on Hughes’ fingers.
In addition, when inside the property officers noticed that upstairs carpets had been scrubbed and there was a smell of fresh paint.
Blood-staining was also noted on the stairs.
Revealing it was the Crown’s case that Mr Creaney was subjected to a beating under the stairs in the hallway of the house, Mr McCollum said that when Hughes and Boyle were being taken to Lurgan police station, Boyle told police that they should check the green bin.
It was at this point that Mr Creaney’s remains were found, underneath cardboard.
When they were arrested on suspicion of murder, Hughes made no reply, whilst Boyle said: “I didn’t do it”.
Outlining the case against the pair, Mr McCollum said both accused were present when Mr Creaney was beaten, that neither of them sought any medical assistance, and that whilst Mr Creaney lay on an upstairs sofa, they both “carried on as if nothing had happened, going in and out of the house... and with people visiting the house.”
The jury was told by the prosecution that on Friday July 4, a friend of Boyle’s visited the Moyraverty Court and Boyle showed her Mr Creaney who at that point was still alive and lying on an upstairs sofa.
The friend told Boyle that she should call an ambulance, but this did not happen.
Mr McCollum said that the following day, after talking to Boyle and being informed that Mr Creaney had died, the friend raised the alarm and contacted police.
The prosecutor also said that despite both Hughes and Boyle both protesting their innocence, there was “overwhelming evidence” that links both accused to the murder – including the fact they were both in the house at the time of the attack and were both present when police arrived.
Hughes was interviewed a total of 21 times by police, and made the case that he was drinking in the living room of his home with Boyle and Mr Creaney in the early hours of Thursday July 3.
He said that when he got up to adjust music, he heard a thud behind him, then he saw Mr Creaney being attacked by Boyle in the hallway.
Branding this version of events as “implausible and incredible”, Mr McCollum said: “It is simply inconceivable that someone who is innocent and witness to a vicious assault would leave the victim lying on a sofa for two days, doing nothing to assist the victim who must have been very seriously injured at that time.”
During her interviews, Boyle denied assaulting Mr Creaney and told police Hughes had carried out the attack and that she tried to “put him off”.
She also made the case that after the attack she assisted Hughes in carrying Mr Creaney upstairs, where she helped shower him and change his clothes.
She also told police that over the next two days, they checked on Mr Creaney’s condition until Hughes determined he had passed away.
Mr McCollum said that in that intervening time before the attack and the discovery, Boyle failed to seek medical assistance for the wounded man or call an ambulance.
Both Hughes – whose address was given as HMP Maghaberry – and Boyle, from Edenderry Park in Banbridge, were remanded back into custody.