Court in Ballymena is told Housing Executive has ‘taken back’ home of couple accused of child cruelty offences who have been on remand in custody for a year

Amanda and Christopher Fulton

THE Housing Executive has “taken back” a house in Mosside where a couple, who deny allegations of child cruelty, had lived, a court was told on Monday.

Christopher (31) and Amanda Fulton (32), from Mosside, who have been on remand in custody for a year, had the matter mentioned at Coleraine Magistrates Court, sitting in Ballymena.

The couple are jointly charged with causing grievous bodily harm with intent, two counts of child cruelty and a fourth charge of causing or allowing a child to suffer ‘serious physical harm’.

The charges relate to last November, 2019.

A prosecution lawyer said five experts had provisionally been engaged by prosecutors.

A defence lawyer hit out at slow movement in the case saying one year had passed since the case first came to court.

He said the couple are in custody as although they have been granted bail an address has not been found.

The defence solicitor said: “To say there has been a lack of progress to date is to be very kind to the prosecution”.

He added that it was “entirely unacceptable” that after a year of being in custody five experts had only “provisionally been engaged”.

He added: “What have the PPS been doing in this case? Seemingly nothing.”

The lawyer asked the judge to consider “warning” the prosecutors about the slow progress.

He said the defendants had each now served the equivalent of a two year custodial sentence while the “prosecution had sat on their hands for a year and many times coming back and saying ‘well there is a pandemic’ and there are issues and there are difficulties, is simply not fair to the defendants in this case who have the presumption of innocence and have been unable to perfect their bail.”

The lawyer said bail was granted ten months ago but the “difficulty has always been an address.”

The solicitor said the Fulton’s previous address has now “been taken back by the Housing Executive” but he was hoping the Executive could provide alternative accommodation.

He added that the couple “want the case progressed” and “they want their day in court. Both individuals have maintained their innocence from the beginning.”

The judge said the allegations were “very grave” and said an “innovative” potential bail package should be examined.

He said he had no expectation of reports coming back from experts for several months and by that stage both defendants could have served the equivalent of a three or even four year sentence which he said “makes a mockery of their presumption of innocence”.

The cases were adjourned to the end of November for an update regarding any potential bail application.

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