Stephen Hunter and Samuel Atcheson appear at court charged with murdering 33-year-old Donald Fraser-Rennie in Ballymena

Deceased: Donald Fraser-Rennie.

TWO men have appeared in court charged with murdering 33-year-old Donald Fraser-Rennie whose body was discovered in a flat at Crebilly Road in Ballymena on Wednesday.

The accused are Stephen Hunter (29), with an address listed as Lanntara in Ballymena, and Samuel Hugh John Atcheson (33), whose address was given as Crebilly Road, Ballymena.

The men appeared via video links at Ballymena Magistrates Court, sitting in Belfast, in front of District Judge George Conner.

Murder accused: Stephen Hunter.

 

Both men were remanded into custody and the cases adjourned to the end of October.

Deceased: Donald Fraser-Rennie

 

At court a police officer said he believed he could connect both accused to the charge that they murdered Mr Fraser-Rennie on a date unknown between September 28 and September 30.

Defence solicitor Hamill Clawson for Atcheson asked if the police officer could confirm that the PSNI received a report of a “deceased person” at an address in Ballymena and when police attended officers “took Mr Atcheson” and interviewed him.

Mr Clawson said Atcheson had given “an account” when interviewed by police in the presence of an “appropriate adult” and a “registered intermediary”.

The officer said that was correct.

Mr Clawson said he was not making any application for bail for his client.

Defence council for Stephen Hunter, barrister Michael Smyth who was instructed by solicitor John Lindsay, said he was not making any application for bail for Hunter.

Mr Smyth made reference to a “second autopsy report” and said the findings of the “police autopsy” were put to the defendant during an interview.

The officer confirmed to Mr Smyth that during his time in custody Hunter was treated by police as a “vulnerable adult” and that police are aware of a “history of mental health issues”.

The officer said the defendant had an “appropriate adult” with him in custody.

Mr Smyth said there would be an “urgent need for a psychiatric assessment” of Hunter upon his arrival at Maghaberry Prison.

Whilst no further details surrounding the death were outlined to the court, speaking at the time Mr Fraser-Rennie’s body was discovered, PSNI Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell had said “at this stage I believe that Donald was the victim of a vicious, sustained and violent beating which resulted in his death”.

The cases were adjourned to Ballymena Magistrates Court on October 29 when both accused are due to appear via video link from custody.

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