A Portadown man appeared in court today (Tuesday) accused of the murder of his infant son four years ago.
Appearing at Craigavon Magistrates Court, 27-year-old Craig Rowland was charged with both the murder and a manslaughter of Lewis Oliver Rowland on October 20, 2018.
Rowland, from Millington Park in Portadown, was also accused of child cruelty in that having custody, charge or care of Lewis, he allegedly wilfully neglected the victim on 20 November 2015 “in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to health.”
Appearing alongside Rowland today, facing a single charge of child cruelty, was Lewis’s mother, 30-year-old Laura Graham, also from Millington Park.
She had also been charged with murder and manslaughter of her infant son but in relation to Graham, a prosecuting lawyer withdrew those two charges relating to the death.
None of the facts surrounding the tragic death were opened in court but it is understood that Lewis was three and a half when he died and just a few months old when he was allegedly wilfully neglected by his parents.
Standing side by side at the back of the court, Rowland and Graham confirmed they were aware of their respective charges and also that the had no objections to a Preliminary Enquiry, the legal step necessary to elevate any case to the Crown Court.
A prosecuting lawyer submitted that on the basis of the legal papers and statements there was a case for the defendants to answer and that was conceded by defence barristers Conor Lunny and Andrew Moriarity.
Highlighting “there is a high volume of expert reports” in the case, they applied for legal aid to be extended to allow senior KC barristers to be instructed.
The court clerk told the pair that although not obliged to, they had the right to comment on the charges and to call evidence on their own behalves but they each declined the opportunity.
Freeing the defendants on their own bail of £500 with a condition to reside at their address, Deputy District Judge Gerard Trainor returned the case to the Crown Court, scheduling their arraignment to be heard on April 21.
He also granted defence applications for legal aid to be extended.