Two men accused of intending to stir up hatred by alleged participation in a song which mocked the murder of Michaela McAreavey are to plead not guilty, a court has been told. A third man charged with the same offence will confirm next month if he is also contesting the case against him. Cian Jones, 23, Steven Kane, 25, and Dillion Kelly, 22, are facing prosecution in connection with chants live streamed from an Orange Hall.
Ms McAreavey, a 27-year-old schoolteacher from Co Tyrone, was killed while on honeymoon in Mauritius in 2011. In May last year a number of people were recorded taking part in offensive singing which contained lyrics about her murder. The video clip was filmed at a hall in Dundonald, east Belfast on May 28 during events to celebrate the centenary of the foundation of Northern Ireland. It provoked widespread revulsion and was condemned at the time by the Orange Order. Seven people were reported to the Public Prosecution Service after the footage circulated online. Based on an assessment of the evidence and the prospects of securing convictions, a decision was taken to bring charges against three of them. Jones, of Craigadick Road in Maghera; Kane, from Coolshinney Heights in Magherafelt; and Kelly, of Edmund Court in Tobermore, each face a single count of using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour intending to stir up hatred. None of the trio were present as the case came before Belfast Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday for the first time. But a solicitor representing Kane told District Judge George Conner: “I can enter a plea of not guilty with regard to the single matter on the summons.” Kelly’s lawyer also confirmed: “There is the same plea of not guilty to the single matter.” However, counsel for Jones requested more time to obtain his client’s attitude to the charge. Eoghan Devlin said: “I have already consulted in detail and spoken to the directing (prosecution) officer, but there is one matter I wish to clarify with him.” Proceedings were adjourned to December 13, when a date for the trial of those contesting the allegations will be set. Ms McAreavey, the daughter of GAA football manager Mickey Harte, was strangled to death in her room at the Legends Hotel on the Indian Ocean island. The Co Tyrone woman was attacked by an intruder after returning to the room alone to collect a packet of biscuits. With no-one ever convicted of the killing, her widower John McAreavey has pursued a campaign to bring those responsible to justice.
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