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Fire outing doused by judge

A man charged with the murder of a loyalist paramilitary chief has failed in a High Court bid in Belfast to have his bail conditions changed so he could attend an 11th night bonfire.

Loyalists light bonfires on the 11th of July ahead of their Twelfth celebrations commemorating King William's victory over the Catholic King James at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

Thirty-nine-year-old David Miller was refused permission to go into Mount Vernon, a notorious loyalist estate in North Belfast, to watch the bonfire.

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Justice Seamus Treacy heard it would be impossible to monitor Miller as police resources would be stretched to the limit on the night.

Miller is one of nine men charged with murdering Ulster Defense Association member Tommy English in 2000.

English, 40, was shot dead at his home on the Ballyduff Estate, Newtownabbey, outside Belfast, by the UVF at the height of a loyalist feud in October of that year.

Miller, with an address at Upritchard Court, Bangor, also faces a series of other charges, including UVF membership, grievous bodily harm with intent, kidnapping, and wounding with intent.

He was previously granted bail but banned from entering Mount Vernon apart from agreed visits to his mother's home.

On Monday, the judge was told it would be Miller's last chance for a break before a trial expected to last up to eight months begins in September.

It was also claimed in court that attending the 11th night bonfire was part of Mr. Miller's culture.

Refusing the request, Mr. Justice Treacy described it as "a wholly unmeritorious application."

The judge told the defense: "I don't consider it is a suitable case to relax the bail conditions in the matter sought by your client who is on bail for murder and other serious offenses."