Alleged killer of former teacher ‘may have used plastic bag as mask’

Michael Owens is charged with murder
Michael Owens is charged with murder

A man accused of murdering a pensioner in his own home may have used a plastic bag as a mask, a court heard on Tuesday.

With 34-year-old Michael Owens appearing at Antrim Magistrates Court via videolink from Maghaberry Prison, a prosecuting lawyer said an update had been given with preliminary forensic results from a plastic bag, the findings of which gave “extremely strong support” and related to the “mouth and handle of the bag”.

“There is no return date at present for the outstanding forensic reports,” the lawyer said, adding that these included “fingernail scrapings”.

Owens, of Lisburn Road, Glenavy is charged with murdering former teacher Robert Flowerday on January 28.

He is also accused of the burglary of Mr Flowerday’s home on December 6 last year.

The body of the 64-year-old retired maths teacher was found at his home in Crumlin on January 28.

Previous courts have heard that there was a preliminary finding of a “positive DNA” result which allegedly connects Owens “to the murder scene”.

In an unsuccessful bail application, Detective Sergeant Walsh outlined: “I have seen what this man is capable of. These injuries are of the most horrific nature, inflicted on an elderly man, in his own home, defenceless and there’s been no remorse shown whatsoever and I think that certainly I have a duty to protect the public and the vulnerable.” He also alleged that Owens had confessed to a witness to the murder.

In court on Tuesday defence solicitor Tony Caher highlighted that on the previous court date, DS Walsh mentioned a preliminary DNA report on “an item” which allegedly “connected him to the scene”.

“Now we are all told that it’s a bag,” he said, revealing there were also “28 other items”.

He told District Judge Nigel Broderick he had “real concerns” over a plastic bag which “appears to have been utilised to act as a mask” and pointed out that this bag was “referred to by another witness late in the day”.

Remanding Owens back into custody, Judge Broderick adjourned the case to May 29.