Accused confessed to Moffatt murder, Coleraine court told

James Alexander McCook is led away in handcuffs from Ballymena Magistrates Court, after he accused of stabbing Norman Moffatt, 73, as the pensioner walked home after buying his morning newspaper in Coleraine, Co Londonderry, in January 2001. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday April 12, 2012. See PA story ULSTER Moffatt. Photo credit should read: Paul Faith/PA Wire
James Alexander McCook is led away in handcuffs from Ballymena Magistrates Court, after he accused of stabbing Norman Moffatt, 73, as the pensioner walked home after buying his morning newspaper in Coleraine, Co Londonderry, in January 2001. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday April 12, 2012. See PA story ULSTER Moffatt. Photo credit should read: Paul Faith/PA Wire

THE man charged with the murder of Coleraine pensioner Norman Moffatt shouted from the dock as a witness told the court that he had confessed to stabbing the 73-year-old.

James Alexander McCook’s outburst came during a preliminary enquiry hearing at North Antrim Magistrates’ Court on Monday.

The hearing will decide whether a case exists against McCook, pictured, who was arrested in Lanchashire last year for fatal stabbing.

Mr Moffatt (73) from Circular Road, was knifed as he walked home from buying his morning paper at Railway Road in 2001.

The father of two died in hospital two months later.

McCook, who appeared in the dock on Monday wearing a grey suit, white shirt and purple tie shouted “I’d say you’re a liar Martha.” as one of the witnesses, Martha Brown, told the court that the defendant had confessed to stabbing Mr Moffatt.

Mrs Brown claimed that McCook had allegedly admitted to the murder in 2006 as the pair attended a late night party at her cousin’s home following a night out in a Portrush bar.

The witness said that she knew McCook from his teenage years and that she had treated him like a brother.

She told the court: “ He told me he stabbed Norman Moffatt.

“He used to tell me things he did a number of years ago.

“I didn’t believe him at the time...he just looked over the bench and said he wasn’t lying, he’d stabbed Norman Moffatt.”

She told the court that after his McCook’s alleged confession she had lifted a bottle and hit him on the head twice with it.

Under cross examination, Defence counsel Neill Rafferty put it to Mrs Brown that the altercation had come after she had called McCook a “murderer”.

She denied this and said it was “100 percent wrong.”

During questioning, Mrs Brown admitted that she wasn’t “too sure” how much she had had to drink on the night.

A PSNI statement was shown to Mrs Brown, which had not been dated or signed.

She told the court that she couldn’t remember when she had made the statement.

Mr Rafferty put it to Mrs Brown that the statement had been made in 2006. Mrs Brown agreed.

When asked why she had made the statement, Mrs Brown said: “I went and told the police. It was eating at me what ‘Tetley’ [McCook] had told me. I had a long illness and then my daughter died.”

As Mrs Brown concluded her version of events, McCook shouted directly at her for a second time from the dock.

Earlier the hearing had heard from Diane Copstick, who had travelled from England to give evidence.

She told the court that McCook had told her on more than one occasion that he had killed someone.

Under cross examination, Copstick, who was a drinking buddy of McCook’s, was asked further details about what he had allegedly said.

She said that he had never told her if the person he had allegedly killed was a man or a woman, young or old.

She told the court that at the time both her and McCook had been drinking.

When asked why she had not told police about this before, Copstick told the court that she “thought it was just drink talking.”

The inquiry is set to continue until Wednesday.