A 32-year-old man has been remanded in custody charged with the murder of Natalie McNally in Lurgan, Co Armagh in December.
Stephen McCullagh, from Woodland Gardens, Lisburn appeared before a district judge in Lisburn Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.
Ms McNally (32), who was 15 weeks pregnant, was stabbed in her home in Silverwood Green in Lurgan on December 18th.
McCullagh was previously arrested on December 19th but released and ruled out as a suspect. He was rearrested on January 31st.
During a remand hearing that lasted almost an hour, the court heard McCullagh, who has a YouTube channel, staged a live broadcast on the night of the murder, with footage appearing to show him playing the video game Grand Theft Auto for six hours.
A senior detective told the court that extensive technical examination of his devices by cyber experts has indicated the footage was prerecorded and played out as if it was live.
PSNI Detective Chief Inspector Neil McGuinness noted that on the footage, McCullagh tells his 37,000 subscribers that he is unable to interact with them live due to technical issues.
Mr McGuinness told district judge Rosie Watters that while McCullagh denies involvement in Natalie McNally’s murder he has conceded in police interview that the purported live stream was prerecorded by him days earlier.
“At the conclusion of the interview process last night or early this morning, after consultation with his legal representative, Mr McCullagh has given us a written statement essentially and in that written statement he has acceded that that live stream was not live and was in fact recorded by him on the 13th into the 14th of December and that he had streamed it on the night of Sunday the 18th,” he told the court.
The court was told that McCullagh was initially arrested in the wake of the murder but then ruled out a suspect on the basis of the alleged live stream alibi.
He said McCullagh, who works in the local media industry, then went on to interact with the McNally family in the weeks that followed.
He claimed the accused left his phone in the home of Ms McNally’s parents and recorded 40 minutes of audio.
Mr McGuinness said he believed this was McCullagh attempting to determine if the family suspected him of involvement in the murder.
Ms McNally’s parents Noel and Bernie and brothers Declan, Niall and Brendan were in court as this evidence was outlined.
McCullagh watched proceedings via video link from a police custody suite. He did not speak at any stage in the proceedings.
He was remanded in custody to appear before Craigavon Magistrates’ Court on February 24th via video link.