Murdered retired teacher Robert Flowerday had ‘horrific’ injuries

Robert Flowerday's body was discovered in his Crumlin home on January 28
Robert Flowerday's body was discovered in his Crumlin home on January 28

A retired teacher murdered in his own home sustained injuries “of the most horrific nature,” a court has heard.

Antrim Magistrates’ Court also heard claims that 33-year-old Michael Gerard Owens allegedly confessed to a witness to the murder of Robert Flowerday.

Michael Owens had his application for bail refused

Michael Owens had his application for bail refused

During an unsuccessful bail application, a PSNI sergeant revealed there was a preliminary finding of a “positive DNA” result which allegedly connects Owens to the murder scene.

He told the court, where Owens appeared via video-link from prison, that he was “strongly objecting” to the alleged killer being freed.

“I have seen what this man is capable of,” said the senior detective. “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.”

Unemployed Owens, from the Lisburn Road in Glenavy, is in custody accused of the murder of Mr Flowerday on January 28 and burglary of Mr Flowerday’s home on December 6 last year when he allegedly stole £100 cash.

The body of the 64-year-old retired Antrim Grammar maths teacher was found at his home on the Mill Road in Crumlin on January 28 after police called to his house because a member of the public raised concerns.

With Mr Flowerday’s relatives sitting in the public gallery, the officer told the court the retired teacher had been at church that morning and had tutored a student later on, returning home at around 3.15pm.

“He wasn’t seen alive after that, except by the defendant, we would say,” claimed the officer.

Mr Flowerday had been due to have another private tutoring session later that day but when he didn’t arrive the family made a series of phone calls to his house. But with no answer, they called at his home.

“There was no response at the door and no life about the house,” said the officer, adding that their suspicions were raised when they spotted a male nearby.

Officers gained entry by the back door but they were confronted by a ransacked house, “blood on a lot of the surfaces of the house and the body of Mr Flowerday in the living room”.

Owens was arrested two days later but during a series of interviews he “never commented or assisted in any shape or fashion”.

The officer said the case at this stage was based on forensic evidence, and that a full report is expected “either by the end of this week or the beginning of next week”.

Reminding the court how more than 600 people attended a vigil for Mr Flowerday, the officer said the murder “highlighted the fear of the community”.

Defence solicitor Tony Caher asked the officer the exact nature of the DNA evidence police say connect Owens to the scene and was told there was a “preliminary report” from the Forensic Science Agency they had uncovered a “positive DNA profile ... that indicates strongly that he was at the murder scene”.

The defence lawyer suggested the witness it is claimed Owens confessed to himself has a record, but the officer said he was not aware and did not have the man’s record “so I’m not going to speculate”.

Despite Mr Caher’s submissions that Owens’ proposed bail address is suitable, the officer maintained it is not as the person to act as surety has multiple convictions for dishonesty and it’s too close to the scene of the murder.

The solicitor further submitted the evidence against Owens was “extremely tenuous” and with no forensic report yet received and a “vehemently denied” supposed admission, “it’s quite outrageous that a person has been continued to be remanded on a dearth of evidence”.

Remanding Owens into custody to appear again on May 15, District Judge Nigel Broderick said he was refusing bail on multiple grounds including the risk of further offences, an unsuitable bail address and the risk of him “interfering with the administration of justice”.