Lisburn man Stephen McCullagh appears in court charged with murder of Natalie McNally in Lurgan

A man has appeared in court charged with the murder of Natalie McNally.

Stephen McCullagh, 32, from Woodland Gardens, Lisburn, was remanded into custody after appearing in Lisburn Magistrates' Court over the murder of the 32-year-old.

Ms McNally's parents Bernie and Noel, her three brothers Declan, Brendan and Niall and their partners were in the public gallery surrounded by other family members, many of whom were wearing pink and blue t-shirts with photographs of Natalie on them.

She was killed in her home on December 19. She was 15 weeks pregnant at the time.

McCullagh did not speak during Thursday's hearing which lasted almost an hour. The court was told he denies the charge.

During the hearing, the court was told how there was a relationship between the accused and Ms McNally. He had met the family on a couple of occasions prior to the killing and had been with them after.

The court heard how he appeared to be on YouTube streaming to his 37,000 subscribers a game of Grand Theft Auto for six hours on the night of the murder.

However, police cyber experts believe he had pre-recorded the streaming and played it out as if it were live.

A detective said during the footage McCullagh tells his followers he is unable to interact with them.

Natalie McNally was killed in her home on December 19. She was 15 weeks pregnant.

Detective Chief Inspector Neil McGuinness told district judge Rosie Watters that while McCullagh denies involvement in Natalie McNally's murder he has conceded in police interviews that the purported live stream was pre-recorded by him days earlier

The court was told that McCullagh was initially arrested in the wake of the murder but then ruled out as a suspect on the basis of the alleged livestream alibi.

McCullagh, who works in the local media industry, then went on to interact with the McNally family in the weeks that followed.

He claimed the accused left his phone in the home of McNally's parents and recorded 40 minutes of audio.

Detective Chief Inspector McGuinness said he believed this was McCullagh attempting to determine if the family suspected him of involvement in the murder.

The charge came after a review of fresh CCTV footage which police believe shows the accused on a bus to Lurgan.

The figure in the CCTV was hooded, wearing a mask and double gloved, the court was told.

Police say the man on the bus was carrying an Asda bag, and at one point the footage - described as of high quality - appeared to show a small black backpack in the bag which was similar to the one on the CCTV outside the alleged victim's Silverwood Green home.

Judge Watters described the alleged recording as a "gross invasion" of the McNally family's privacy. Declining bail, district judge Watters said: "I don't know that I've ever come across a case that is so complex. "And if the police are right, this was a cold-blooded attack which was meticulously planned with absolutely tragic consequences and, in all the circumstances, I also am concerned about the issues which the prosecution are concerned with. "The risk of further offending - if he can carry out an attack like this, if the police case is right, then who knows what else he is capable of?" McCullagh watched proceedings via video link from a police custody suite. He was remanded in custody to appear before Craigavon Magistrates' Court on February 24 via video link.

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