A father-of-one jointly charged with murdering a man in Craigavon denied involvement in the fatal attack and claimed his co-accused went “nuts” and “stood all over” the victim.
The allegations were disclosed at Belfast Crown Court, where a man and woman are currently standing trial for the murder of Owen Creaney.
Stephen Thomas Hughes (29) and 25-year-old co-accused Shaunean Boyle have been jointly charged with, and deny Mr Creaney’s murder, blaming each other for the fatal attack.
Following the assault under the stairs in a house a Moyraverty Court, Mr Creaney was cleaned and carried to an upstairs bedroom, where he lay on a sofa for two days before passing away from his injuries.
The jury heard Hughes’s version of events via police interviews, during which he claimed not to have taken part in an assault launched on Mr Creaney solely by Shaunean Boyle. Hughes also claimed that Boyle “begged” him not to call an ambulance as she feared she would not see her young son again, and that it was her idea to put his remains into a green recycling bin after he died.
The jury also heard evidence from a custody sergeant who was on duty when Hughes was transferred from Lurgan police station to Antrim Custody Suite. Both he and Boyle were arrested on Saturday, July 5.
He was allowed to call his parents, and during a conversation with his mother – which was listened to by the custody sergeant – Hughes was asked who had put Mr Creaney into the bin, to which Hughes replied “the two of us”.
He told his mother that Boyle “stood all over him”, and when asked by his mother what he did, Hughes responded by saying “she (Boyle) hit him, put him up the stairs, and cleaned him up”.
Hughes was interviewed several times between Saturday July 5 and Monday 7th. During his first interview, he made a ‘no comment’ response to all the questions he was asked - including “how did that man end up in a recycling bin at your address?” and “was it a quick death, or slow, lingering and in agony?”
However, during later interviews Hughes made the case that prior to the fatal attack he, Boyle and Mr Creaney had been drinking, but that Boyle and the victim were arguing and “picking at each other” because Mr Creaney was friends with a man who had broken Boyle’s father’s legs with sledgehammers.
Hughes told police that he bend down to fix the music, that Mr Creaney got up and that he “heard a thud” behind him. When he turned around, he said he saw Boyle attacking Mr Creaney. He told police he saw Boyle “repeatedly hitting Owen” in the hallway, that he pulled her off, but that “she’d go back to him again, kicking and stamping at him.”
He said things then calmed down, that Boyle “cleaned Owen up” with water and a cloth from the kitchen, and that they then carried him back into the living room and sat him on a chair.
Hughes told police that he and Boyle then carried Mr Creaney up the stairs and laid him on a sofa bed. When asked by police what state Mr Creaney was in, Hughes said he was “not speaking, but breathing” - and attributed part of his state to his alcohol intake.
Hughes said Boyle left his house at around 8am that morning, and during that day, he checked on Mr Creaney several times. He also claimed that when he told Boyle he was going to call an ambulance, she “freaked out” and “pleaded” with him not to, asking him to wait until she got back to the house.
Hughes claimed that Boyle “kept checking” on Mr Creaney, and when he noticed that Mr Creaney has passed away some time between midnight and 2am on Saturday July 5th, he suggested calling the police, but Boyle “begged me not to.”
The court also heard Hughes account of what happened after Mr Creaney died. He said that both he and Boyle “freaked out”, that he didn’t know what to do and that after contacting a relative, Boyle suggested placing the body in a wheelie bin.
He told police: “When Shaunean asked me about the bin, I said ‘what for.’ She said ‘to put him into it.’ I said ‘are you sure that’s the right thing you want to do?’”
Hughes claimed he again raised the issue about contacting the police, but Boyle “was freaking out. She started crying. I didn’t know ... my head was really all over the place.
“I went and got the bin, brought it up the stairs and the two of us put him in it. She put rubbish on top and I wheeled it down the stairs.”
Hughes claimed Boyle then told him to “act normally”, and told police “I felt like I was being pushed into it.”
He also told police during interview he felt Boyle had “more or less had put me under pressure to clean the place up and clean the mess up that she got herself into, without bringing me into it.”