Two Maghera teenagers are to stand trial over the alleged murder of a vulnerable homeless man, whose badly beaten body was discovered in a disused parochial house, almost two years ago.
Appearing for a committal hearing were Caolan Michael Johnston, 18, of The Fort, and Adrian Kozack, 19, of Craigmore Heights, who are jointly accused of murdering Piotr Krowka in April 2018.
The body of the thirty-six-year-old Polish national (pictured right) was found by police who said he suffered 'a violent death'.
On first appearing in court within days of the alleged incident, both were remanded in custody, with the cases split between Magherafelt Magistrates Court for Kozack and Dungannon Youth Court for Johnston, who was 17 at the time of arrest.
A bail application for Johnston was strongly opposed by police who stated what allegedly occurred was 'a sustained, violent, assault causing the victim's death'.
A detective inspector explained Mr Krowka was last seen alive at about 9pm on March 31, 2018, when he was followed by a person, believed to be Kozack.
Some sort of scuffle or confrontation occurred, and Kozack ran off, seeking assistance from others congregating in the area, one of whom is believed to have been Johnston.
Police found Mr Krowka's body on the afternoon of April 3, 2018, and a post mortem revealed he suffered a violent death, caused by 'blunt force trauma' to his head, chest, abdomen and left arm.
There was also evidence that a sharp weapon was used and pressure applied to his neck.
Johnston was described as a suspected member of gang calling themselves the 'Maghera mafia' who had allegedly been terrorising the community with anti-social behaviour for some time.
It was decided he could be released on strict terms including residence with his parents, a curfew from 9pm to 7am, electronical tagging and refraining from drugs and alcohol.
Kozack would be granted bail at a later date.
Due to his age, Johnston’s identity was not disclosed, but that changed after he turned 18, and the case was conjoined with Kozack at Magherafelt Magistrates Court, where they stood side-by-side in the dock, each speaking only to confirm they understood the charge.
A lawyer appearing on behalf of the Public Prosecution Service told the court there is a case to answer, which was agreed by District Judge Oonagh Mullan.
Neither accused called witnesses or give evidence on their own behalf at this stage in proceedings.
Judge Mullan remanded Johnston and Kozak on bail to appear for arraignment at Derry Crown Court next month.
The judge agreed to relax Kozak’s bail terms reducing daily signing with police to three times per week, to accommodate his employment. All other conditions remain, as do those for Johnston.
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