Judge says Cookstown shooting accused ‘a high violence offender’ at bail hearing


A 32-year-old man charged with attempted murder following a minor altercation at a house in Cookstown, had just been released from prison weeks before.

Mark Leslie Hay from Beechway in Cookstown is accused of attempting to murder a 35-year-old man, possessing a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life, threatening to kill a female and entering as a trespasser with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm.

A detective on the case told Dungannon Magistrates the accused “has no intention of co-operating” with public protection arrangements, when the defendant appeared by video-link for a bail application that was opposed by police.

Describing events of the incident in question, a detective said officers were called to the scene at Drumcree Road, Cookstown just after 5.30pm on June 5, where ambulance staff reported a male had been shot in both legs.

It is alleged that Hay and another male, whom police have been unable to locate, entered the house wearing camouflage jackets and balaclavas. One was holding a handgun.

Victim and witness statements, which police confirmed are the only evidence against Hay, suggested the balaclavas were removed from the men and that Hay was holding the gun.

The court heard how those present thought it was joke until the gun was fired, seriously injuring the victim.

During interview Hay read a prepared statement claiming it was a case of mistaken identity, then exercised his right to silence.

The detective told the court: “This was a serious incident over a minor altercation. Police are strongly opposed to bail due to a high risk of reoffending and witness interference.

“The weapon has not yet been recovered. Another person has been arrested and charged with intimidation.

“The defendant was only released from a prison sentence in March 2016 for violent offending against his immediate ex-partner when the shooting is alleged to have occurred.”

She also objected to the suggested bail in Coalisland - the home of Hay’s new partner, stating: “The defendant has no intention of cooperating with PPANI and is not engaging with them on his release from prison. He was to notify them of any new relationship and has not done so.

“He is not engaging or co-operating. In addition he has 45 previous offences on record, including eight assaults on police, five obstructing police and four serious assaults.”

At this point, Hay spoke out at the detective, to which District Judge John Meehan said: “You do not need to reply to heckling from the defendant.”

Under cross-examination by defence counsel it was confirmed the only evidence against Hay are victim and witness accounts.

It was also confirmed that searches were conducted at Hay’s home, and neither the firearm or camouflage clothing were found.

Defence said: “My client adamantly denies any involvement and has proffered an alibi.

“In relation to the objections to the address of his new partner, whilst it is accepted there is domestic violence on record, there is nothing involving his current partner.”

Judge Meehan replied: “Nothing in what I’ve heard traverses the presumption of innocence.

“The defendant has a bad record for high levels of violence. There have been two clear identifications. The risk of interference with witnesses is acute, given this is a high violence offender, which he has demonstrably shown from his previous offending.”

Hay was remanded in custody to appear again by video-link on 20 July.