Detective Sergeant in court on murder investigation

The Elk Bar and nightclub complex.INMM0216-317
The Elk Bar and nightclub complex.INMM0216-317

A detective sergeant was back in the dock in a courthouse in relation to being charged in connection with the murder of a man outside a nightclub earlier this year.

PSNI officer Cathy Thompson was previously charged with two counts of intent to pervert the course of justice and one of withholding information in relation to the murder of 28-year-old James McDonagh near Toomebridge.

The 33-year-old officer, whose address was given as Coleraine PSNI Station, appeared at Magherafelt Magistrates Court on Wednesday for a brief hearing.

Wearing a grey suit and white blouse she had mingled with other court defendants in the court corridor before entering the court room and stepping into the dock to stand before District Judge Alan White to hear the date when her case has been adjourned to in May.

Thompson is accused of sending two text messages on January 10, the day of the murder.

The first message read: “yeah don’t have anything in the house that you shouldn’t have, they will then search the whole house for clothing”, the court was told.

A second message read: “Tell him to behave and say nothing”.

She was also accused of withholding information from police knowing that murder had been committed and that the information she had was likely “to be of material assistance in securing the apprehension, prosecution or conviction of some person for that offence”.

Thompson, who has been suspended from duty until the outcome of the case, did not speak during her brief court appearance.

She was released on continuing bail of £500 with conditions not to contact anybody connected with the investigation apart from her partner.

She is also banned from entering Loughbeg Road between Toome and Moneyglass which is the address of Finbar McCoy (24) who is charged with murder.

As she left the court she pulled up a blue raincoat around her face as she was quickly picked up by a car.

James McDonagh, from Castledawson, was attacked at the Elk Inn on the Hillhead Road near Toomebridge in the early hours of Sunday, January 10. He sustained a serious head injury and died in hospital a day later.

Finbar McCoy, a joiner from Loughbeg Road near Toome, has been charged with Mr McDonagh’s murder.

At his first court appearance McCoy denied the murder but admitted assaulting Mr McDonagh.

After his arrest he told detectives: “I can’t bring words together to say how sorry I am, I’ve been so sad for the family, but I did not murder James McDonagh”.

An earlier court was told the cause of death was a blow to the back of the head, possibly caused by Mr McDonagh falling during an incident.

Murder accused Finbar McCoy is currently on bail having spent a number of weeks in custody.

The terms of his bail include on his own bail of £2,000 together with a cash surety of £2,000 and he’s been ordered to surrender his passport and not to order another passport.

He must also report to the police two times a week and he is banned from entering within the 30mph zone around Toomebridge. He was also banned from drinking and he has a night time curfew.

At court on Wednesday, his case was also adjourned to May.