A 33-year-old man charged with the murder of Natalie McNally has put on hold his legal bid to be released from custody.
Stephen McCullagh is accused of stabbing to death Ms McNally, who was 15 weeks pregnant, at her home in Lurgan, Co Armagh last December.
McCullagh, of Woodland Gardens in Lisburn, Co Antrim, appeared remotely from HMP Maghaberry for a planned bail application at the High Court today.
But proceedings were adjourned to next month to allow his lawyers time to hold consultations in prison and respond to undisclosed points raised in written submissions by the prosecution.
Defence barrister Craig Patton said: “The key factor is because it is an ongoing investigation there are issues that have arisen since the application in the lower court.”
Relatives of 32-year-old Ms McNally were in attendance for the scheduled hearing before Northern Ireland’s most senior judge.
Re-listing the case for March 6th, Lady Chief Justice Dame Siobhan Keegan stressed: “I don’t want a situation where family members and lawyers are attending again on the morning of hearing and the matter is adjourned.”
Ms McNally was murdered at her Silverwood Green home on December 18th.
A previous court heard McCullagh, who works in the local media industry and has a YouTube channel, staged an online gaming stream the night she was killed.
Footage appeared to show him playing the video game Grand Theft Auto for six hours.
Arrested in the wake of the murder, he had been initially ruled out as a suspect due to the alleged live-stream alibi.
In the footage, McCullagh was said to have told viewers he could not interact with them live due to technical issues.
Extensive examination of his devices by cyber experts then indicated the footage was pre-recorded and played out as if it was live, a magistrate’s court heard earlier this month.
McCullagh denies involvement in Ms McNally’s murder, but accepted in police interviews that the purported live-stream had been recorded days earlier. He claimed that at the time of the killing he was drinking on his own in his house and fell asleep.
McCullagh also allegedly interacted with the McNally family in the following weeks. Detectives claimed the accused left his phone at the home of the victim’s parents and recorded 40 minutes of audio in an attempt to determine if he was suspected of the murder.
The case against McCullagh includes CCTV evidence from a bus in Lurgan and an account from a taxi driver, through which police believe they can trace him from the murder scene back to his home in Lisburn.
Defence lawyers have disputed the strength of the case against him, contending that he has been charged with murder on the basis of the live-streaming inconsistency.
Dressed in a grey prison tracksuit, McCullagh did not speak during today’s brief hearing.
His barrister confirmed that they had spoken briefly about the new submissions lodged by the Crown, but requested more time for in-depth discussions.
“There are some issues that have been raised that will require me to consult further with the applicant,” Mr Patton told the court.
Dame Keegan agreed to put the application back to allow time for that process.
She added: “It’s unfortunate now that people have to go away today and nothing has happened, but I think that is the right approach. If you need time, so be it.”