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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Jonathan McCambridge

Man appears in court charged with murdering Chloe Mitchell

PA Wire

A man has appeared in court accused of murdering 21-year-old Chloe Mitchell in Ballymena.

Brandon John Rainey, 26, from James Street in the Co Antrim town, appeared via video link at Ballymena Magistrates’ Court on Monday, where he was charged with murdering Ms Mitchell between June 2 and 5.

Rainey wore a grey sweatshirt and, when asked if he understood the charge, replied: “Yeah.”

A PSNI detective inspector told the court she can connect the accused to the charge.

A barrister for the defendant said his client has “acute mental health difficulties”.

No application for bail was made.

The lawyer said his client denies the allegation against him.

District Judge Peter King said: “Mr Rainey appears charged with the most serious offence in the criminal canon.”

Rainey was remanded in custody until July 6.

Charged with assisting an offender is Ryan Johnston Gordon, 34, from Nursery Close, Ballymena.

No bail bid was made for Gordon but one will be made on Tuesday June 20.

Counsel for Gordon said he wanted to “echo similar sentiments to my colleague” in terms of his client, adding: “There are mental health difficulties.”

Gordon was also remanded into custody.

Ms Mitchell was last seen on CCTV in the early hours of Saturday June 3 in Ballymena town centre.

Detectives investigating her disappearance launched a murder inquiry on Sunday after suspected human remains were found in Ballymena.

Forensic officers attended a flat in James Street on Sunday evening.

The property was cordoned off by police last week.

The discovery of remains came after extensive searches across Ballymena.

Searches took place along the banks of the River Braid as well as in the water and surrounding areas.

Police thanked the community in Ballymena and search and rescue teams for their help in trying to find Ms Mitchell.

A prayer vigil for Ms Mitchell was held at a local church on Sunday evening.

North Antrim MP Ian Paisley said there is a “terrible shadow” over Ballymena.

Paying tribute to those who took part in the search, he told the BBC: “They were just brilliant; they worked in very hot weather through river beds and through difficult terrain.

“It shows the community spirit.

“No one wanted to hear that awful news that emerged and the sadness that is there.

“They worked in hope but unfortunately that has been put aside now.”

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