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Tragic death of teen chilling warning - Judge

Thursday, 24 August 2017

A TRAGIC case that was a 'chilling example' of the dangers of the illicit use of drugs was how one district judge described the untimely passing of a 19-year-old Omagh woman at the weekend.

District judge Nigel Broderick made his remarks during the case of a 24-year-old man who, the court heard, told police he supplied drugs to the late Emma Doogan (19) in the days leading up to her death. Ms Doogan's body was discovered in the Meelmore Drive area of Strathroy, Omagh, on Saturday.

Matthew Darryl Taylor, of Meelmore Drive, Omagh, is facing a total of 10 charges connected to the possession and supply of Class A, B and C controlled drugs, namely Ecstasy, cannabis and diazepam. He is also facing a further charge in connection with selling or supplying the prescription-only drug, Lyrica.

The accused appeared at Fermanagh Magistrates Court on Monday to face the charges. A bail application was opposed by the police and subsequently refused. That was again the case when the accused appealed for compassionate bail at Omagh Court by video-link on Tuesday afternoon, so that he could attend today's (Wednesday) funeral of the teenager.

A PSNI detective constable told the court on Monday she believed she could connect the defendant to all the charges.

Outlining the circumstances of his arrest, the policewoman said that it had followed the tragic death of a young woman in Omagh, who was found deceased by her family on Saturday. She alleged that the deceased had been involved in an "on/off" relationship with the defendant for the last year.

Enquiries had been conducted with the woman's family and anyone, who had seen her in the days prior to the discovery of the body.

An eyewitness told the police that the deceased had attended a house party last week, late on Thursday night and in the early hours of Friday.

This witness alleged that Taylor had arrived at the house "with different bags of drugs" and supplied a number of Ecstasy tablets to her, the court heard.

As a result of what the witness had said, police spoke to the defendant.

He told officers that he had seen the woman on Friday morning and admitted that he had supplied Class 'C' drugs to her, but wouldn't say where he got them.

After he was arrested and conveyed to Omagh custody suite, a search was carried out. Police found quantities of suspected Ecstasy and cannabis.

During interview, he claimed that these drugs were for his own personal use. The police objected to bail due to the risk of further offending.

During cross-examination, the detective constable confirmed that she was not aware of the port-mortem results, adding that it was scheduled to take place that day.

Defending solicitor, Colin O'Kane, of McGee O'Kane Solicitors, told the court that his client wished to convey his sympathies to the family of the deceased at this stage.

The solicitor said that Taylor, who admitted to being a drug user, was "very upset".

Applying for bail, Mr. O'Kane said that his client had assisted police at each stage of their enquiries.

He urged the judge to release him to a suitable address, subject to stringent conditions.

The solicitor told the court that his client accepted that he supplied drugs to the deceased, but added that there was nothing to suggest that Taylor was involved in the wholesale dealing of drugs to the wider community.

District judge, Nigel Broderick, observed that this was clearly a tragic case that was a "chilling example" of the dangers of the illicit use of drugs.

The judge said the defendant, who was "sadly known" to the deceased, had provided her with drugs that had led to her "untimely and sudden demise".

Mr. Broderick said that Taylor suffered from some form of drug addiction and had other offences on his record as a result of a failure to deal with that issue.

Refusing bail, the judge expressed his fear that, if released, the defendant would be unable to deal with his addiction issue and attempt to re-involve himself in that behaviour.

Mr. Broderick remanded him in custody to appear before Omagh Magistrates Court on Tuesday for a possible compassionate bail application.

At that sitting, before District judge Bernie Kelly, Taylor appeared by video-link from custody in Maghaberry prison. As a police constable started to outline the case defence solicitor, Mr O'Kane, said there was no need to open the facts again as they had already been widely publicised and he was content for the officer to outline any objections to their bail application.

After examining documents relating to the application, District judge Kelly said she took it objection number one on the list would be the most pertinent. She asked the constable, who had taken the stand, if she had had an opportunity to discuss with the deceased's family if they would like Taylor to attend their daughter's funeral.

The constable said while she was not the investigating officer in this matter, she had been informed by her colleague who was, that the injured party's mother indicated they did not wish to have the defendant present or privy to any of the funeral arrangements.

"That's the end of your compassionate bail application because it's very simple, if this girl's family do not want him there it's irrespective of the circumstances of how she come to meet her demise unfortunately, in any funeral arrangements, no matter what they are, if a family makes it perfectly clear that they do not want person x to attend, person x would be the most unthinking, uncaring individual in society, to even think of going to that funeral, wouldn't they? They would respect the wishes of the immediate next of kin of the deceased," she said.

Mr O'Kane indicated that is client would be willing to attend the funeral but stay in a 'crying room' (small room off the main body of the church) at the rear of the chapel and have no contact with anyone.

District judge Kelly said if the parents had indicated that they did not want Taylor there "basic human decency dictates that you respect the families wishes, that's basic human decency."

She added: "I cannot for the life of me understand the thought processes of anyone who would go against that basic human decency, especially in a very trying time like this and that's irrespective of how someone unfortunately comes to meet their end. In any walk of life, no matter the circumstances, when a family make funeral arrangements and they've made it perfectly clear that they don't want x, y or z as the case may be, to attend, then they should respect that."

Mr O'Kane indicated that he might appeal the decision.

District judge Kelly said the application was refused and for the reasons she had outlined. Taylor was remanded in custody until September 5 and to appear by way of video link once again. Mr O'Kane indicated he might appeal the decision.

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