Two women charged with the murder of a pensioner in Derry have appeared at the city’s Magistrate’s Court.
Sharon Harland, 44, of Baltimore House in the city and Rhona Gracey, 33, of Chobham Street in Belfast are jointly charged with murdering Daniel Guyler and robbing him of £400.
The 75-year-old victim was found with serious injuries in the Termon Street area of Derry on July 23, 2018.
He later died in hospital on May 1, 2019.
Outlining details of the case, Judge Magill said an ambulance called police to the scene on July 23, 2018, and Mr Guyler was transported to Altnagelvin Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit after he was attacked.
The two defendants were identified as suspects and after interview charged with grievous bodily harm with intent and robbery.
The defendants appeared in court after the incident on July 25 where it was decided that the case would be dealt with by way of a report.
Following police investigations the defendants were re-arrested on July 22, 2020, on suspicion of murder.
Exactly two years on from the alleged attack the two defendants appeared in court.
The court was told that both defendants deny the charges and both have ‘considerable criminal records’.
A detective objected to bail saying police ‘feel very strongly’ about the prospect of interference with witnesses and the possibility of reoffending.
She said that Harland appears to know most civilian witnesses as there are links to family members.
Harland was said to have called witnesses ‘liars’, accused them of stealing from her and believes they are out to get her after ‘fall outs’.
The detective said that after the alleged assault she asked witnesses ‘are you going to tout?’, and ‘are you going to squeal?’
The PSNI detective also told the court that the forensic evidence is ‘quite strong’ with a number of items of clothing and shoes suggesting proximity to projected blood.
Judge Magill asked if it was correct to say that since the alleged attack both defendants have been at large. That was affirmed.
The ‘unfortunate gentleman’ died in May 2019, he said, and the defendants weren’t re-arrested at that time.
He added that murder cases are ‘extremely complex’ and require ‘considerable resources’.
It was established that there has been ‘no interference’ with witnesses in that time and they are not deemed a flight risk.
Representing Harland, defence barrister Sean Doherty said that after the alleged assault the prosecution made the decision to ‘withdraw the charges and proceed by way of a report’.
Two years after the incident there has been ‘no attempt’ at interference, he said.
With the exception of one or two witnesses, he said, they are all familiar with the criminal justice system and the idea that his client would pose a risk to them ‘lacks credibility’.
The court was told that in the last ten years his client has a limited criminal record.
She is a woman on the fringes of society, he added, who has mental health issues and poly-substance abuse issues for which she is now on a programme.
The defendant has been homeless for many years but now has a permanent address.
She is the mother of five and is pregnant with a sixth child.
Mr Doherty believed her to be a suitable candidate for bail.
Defence barrister for Gracey, John Keown, echoed comments from Mr Doherty and said that at the time of the alleged assault his client had just been released from prison.
She was then recalled on license and served an extra 12 months in prison.
The defendant has been at liberty for 13 months residing in Belfast far away from witnesses where she is on a methadone programme, the defence barrister added.
Mr Keown said she ‘appears to have turned her life around’ and added that the cause of death was pneumonia.
The barrister told the court that these issues will have to be looked at in ‘great detail’ and said his client doesn’t know any of the witnesses as she had only been in the city a couple of weeks at that time.
Judge Magill granted the defendants their own bail of £500 to reside at addresses approved by the PSNI.
Conditions imposed by the court include a prohibition on drugs and they were warned that they will be under police scrutiny.
The PPS appealed the decision to grant bail and they remain in custody until that hearing.
Their case will appear before the court again on August 20.
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