Murder accused ‘took one-way flight to Thailand after community worker’s death’
A man charged with murdering a Belfast community worker boarded a one-way flight to Thailand the next day along with a co-accused in the killing, a court has heard.
Glenn Rainey paid for a flight from Dublin with cash and did not have a single item of luggage, a detective investigating Ian Ogle’s death told Belfast Magistrates’ Court.
“Less than 24 hours after the murder Mr Rainey fled to Thailand,” the detective inspector said, revealing the accused had withdrawn £3,000 in cash from a bank days earlier.
The officer said police also believe CCTV evidence shows Rainey, his face masked with a red scarf, “walking very calmly away” from the murder scene moments after he and four others subjected Mr Ogle to a brutal attack.
Mr Ogle, 45, died after being beaten and stabbed 11 times shortly after praying with a pastor near his home in Cluan Place in east Belfast on January 27.
Rainey, of McArthur Court in east Belfast, was arrested at Manchester Airport on Sunday after arriving on a flight back from Thailand.
He was remanded in custody after appearing before a district judge in Belfast on Wednesday afternoon.
During a lengthy remand hearing in front of a packed courtroom, Rainey’s lawyer attempted to challenge the grounds on which police were connecting the 32-year-old with the charge.
District Judge Peter King rejected the application, insisting he was “absolutely satisfied” there was a “reasonable suspicion” to justify connecting the accused to the murder.
Amid a heavy armed police presence in the court, the judge then declined Rainey’s subsequent bid for bail, concurring with the prosecution assessment that he represented a flight risk.
Relatives of Mr Ogle watched proceedings as Rainey, appearing in the dock in a grey and navy sweater, sat impassively through the 75-minute hearing, occasionally bowing his head toward the ground.
He is the second man charged with murdering Mr Ogle.
Jonathan Brown, 33, also of McArthur Court, was remanded in custody last month.
At Wednesday’s remand hearing, the detective inspector said Brown and Rainey travelled to Thailand together the day after Mr Ogle’s death, neither carrying any luggage.
Outlining the circumstances of the case, she said the murder was linked to a long-running feud between the Ogle family and a group of men from east Belfast, including Rainey.
The officer said the dispute stemmed from a physical altercation in the summer of 2017.
She said on the night of the incident Mr Ogle and his son had been involved in a fight with a cousin of the family outside a chip shop in Beersbridge Road.
In the wake of that incident, she said co-accused Brown organised a group of men to carry out a “reprisal attack” on Mr Ogle.
She said a combination of CCTV footage, location data from telephone masts in east Belfast and call traffic on Rainey’s phone provided strong “circumstantial” evidence that he was one of five men that carried out the fatal 30-second attack on Mr Ogle.
The officer said the men had been driven to the area by Brown in a black Seat Leon, moments after stopping at a nearby bar where another physical altercation had taken place.
The detective claimed Rainey was wearing a “distinctive” bobble hat and dark jacket in the CCTV images.
She claimed CCTV from inside a bank branch, taken four days earlier, showed Rainey wearing the same jacket as he withdrew £3,000 in cash.
The footage was shown to the court during the hearing.
After the murder, the officer told the judge a number of the men returned to the parked Seat Leon, Rainey walking calmly, and drove away.
She said the car was then abandoned in nearby Pitt Park and the men went to a property in east Belfast to engage in a “forensic clean-up”.
“The clothes were disposed of, the shoes and weapons involved,” she said.
The officer said a knife and baton were subsequently recovered from Connswater river close to the house where the clean-up happened.
She said the state pathologist had since said the knife was consistent with the blade used to murder Mr Ogle.
Rainey’s lawyer insisted the only piece of evidence police had used to connect him to the murder was a non-distinctive jacket.
He said going on holiday to Thailand, being in east Belfast or making calls to Brown were not offences.
The lawyer added his client was a regular traveller to Thailand.
“This is a tenuous case,” he said.
“There’s no evidence to connect him to the events that led to the murder of Mr Ogle.”
Later applying for bail, the lawyer said Rainey “survived on benefits” and was not an “international man of mystery” who was liable to leave the jurisdiction again.
This prompted laughter from some in the public gallery, with the judge warning: “This is not for entertainment, we are dealing with the death of a man.”
A prosecution lawyer claimed when all the strands of evidence were taken together a strong circumstantial case had been built by police.
He noted Rainey’s 30-day visa in Thailand had run out and he had no onward flight to Belfast booked when he was arrested in Manchester, countering the defence claim that he was returning home to clear his name.
Judge King said he was satisfied there was enough evidence to connect Rainey to the charge.
“I have to look at the picture in its entirety and its entirety in my mind raises a reasonable suspicion,” he said.
He cited the circumstances of Rainey’s trip to Thailand as he rejected the subsequent bail application and remanded the accused into custody.
After the hearing, there were angry scenes outside the court building as supporters of Rainey and Mr Ogle shouted at each other.
Armed police intervened to prevent the stand-off escalating.