Woman ‘prefers to stay in prison rather than be released to a Simon Community hostel in Ballymena or Larne’


Ballymena Court
Ballymena Court.

A woman accused of fraud in relation to prescription medication “belonging to a deceased person” has been further remanded in custody after opting not to be bailed to a Simon Community hostel either in Ballymena or Larne.

Angela May Jean Irwin (53), of Devenagh Court in Ballymena, is alleged to have committed fraud by false representation by ordering prescription medication with the intention of causing a loss to the Northern Health and Social Services Trust between November 21/22 in 2018.

The charges are linked to the death of Robin McMaster (40), whose body was found at the same address on November 22 last year.

On November 22, police said the death was being treated as murder.

Irwin had originally been arrested on suspicion of murder before being released on bail pending further enquiries.

She was then re-arrested and charged with fraud by false representation.

On November 29, police then said: “Following our enquiries we are no longer treating this is as a murder investigation. CID detectives in Ballymena are however continuing to look into the circumstances of his death.”

A previous court heard it alleged that Irwin had taken “prescription medication belonging to a deceased person”.

On Thursday, the defendant appeared at Ballymena Magistrates Court via video link from Hydebank Prison, where she has been on remand in connection with the fraud by false representation charge.

The court was told the defendant had been in custody for almost two months.

Defence solicitor Nigel McIlrath said bail addresses at the Simon Community in Ballymena and Larne had been put forward but the defendant was “content” to remain in custody.

District Judge Nigel Broderick said: “Most people don’t want to be in custody. Maybe she finds being in custody a safe environment but it is not an ideal environment.”

The defendant was further remanded in custody and the case adjourned to January 24.

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