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Court

Derrylin murder accused defence to challenge

LAWYERS acting for a man accused of murdering three generations of the same family in an arson attack, are to challenge the evidence of some prosecution witnesses. 
Daniel Sebastian Allen (28) of Molly Road, Derrylin but remanded in custody since his arrest, is charged with murdering the four victims on February 27 2018. 
For some time each was listed on court papers simply as, “a person who is currently unidentified” while investigations continued. Months later, the names of those who died were released. 
Denise Pauline Gossett (54) died along with her daughter Sabrina (19); son Roman Edward (16) and Morgana, aged just 16 months, who was Sabrina’s infant daughter. 
The four perished when their home was destroyed by what police described as a ferocious fire. Specialist search teams took three days to recover the baby’s body. Allen was arrested shortly after and appeared in court charged with murder and arson with intent to endanger life by damaging the house in which the four victims resided.  He has been remanded in custody ever since. 
There was some delay in the case due to forensic scientists experiencing an “excessive workload” and the intricate examination of some items proved more time-consuming that originally anticipated. 
However earlier this year a committal date was scheduled to be fixed to transfer Allen to trial. While that was progressing, defence lawyers advised the court of their intention to have some prosecution witness evidence challenged by way of Preliminary Investigation (PI). 
This will require facilities set up to accommodate the hearing, in which disputed witnesses will be taken through their evidence, after which a decision will be made on whether there is a case to answer. 
One witness is to travel from England for the hearing. District Judge Michael Ranaghan listed the PI for November 5 and remanded Allen in continuing custody. 
Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK which continues to hold PIs with other jurisdictions abolishing them some time ago. 
It is the right of the defence to mount a PI in order to examine evidence of some or all PPS witnesses, with is recorded and signed off as statements. Such hearings require specific court procedures, usually involving setting aside a specific venue. 
A District Judge presides and after hearing all evidence will issue on ruling on whether or not the accused person is to stand trial or not.
 
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