Wednesday 7 December 2016

Man who faced three trials over one-punch killing acquitted of teen's manslaughter on New Year's Eve

Ashleigh McDonald

Published 21/06/2016 | 08:03

Mark Donnelly at a previous hearing
Mark Donnelly at a previous hearing
Fatal blow: Jason McGovern

Mark Donnelly, who faced three trials accused of the one-punch unlawful killing of 19-year-old Co Monaghan teenager Jason McGovern, has been formally acquitted of the manslaughter.

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The 23-year-old former motorcross ace, from Greencastle Road, between Omagh and Cookstown, was cleared of the 2012 New Years' Eve manslaughter of the teenager, after the prosecution offered no evidence against him.

Fatal blow: Jason McGovern
Fatal blow: Jason McGovern

Mr McGovern was found dead in the Co Monaghan home of a friend in the village of Mullan hours after an attack in a carpark following a night out in Omagh.  A post mortem later revealed he had a fractured skull and died from resulting bleeding on the brain.

On Monday prosecution lawyer Simon Reid told Dungannon Crown Court, sitting in Belfast's Laganside courthouse, that the Crown "are offering no evidence" on the manslaughter charge.

Lady Justice Keegan then instructed the jury of seven men and five women to find Donnelly "not guilty by direction".

The Judge told the jury: "This case was due to start today for a hearing which would gave lasted a number of weeks.

"There have been developments in the case, and as a result of that, the prosecution are not offering any evidence on the charge before the court in relation to the defendant.

"I am directing you to find the defendant not guilty."

Donnelly was last before the courts last June when a jury of seven men and five women, who'd deliberated for over four hours over two days, reported that they had reached a stalemate which could not be resolved with further time.

This was the second time a jury had failed to reach a verdict in the case. Another trial had to be aborted for legal reasons.

During the last trial Donnelly maintained that he was an innocent, who was wrongly identified by flawed witnesses as being the man in the white shirt who threw the killer punch which ultimately led to Mr McGovern's death hours later.

"I would say she (the witness) is mistaken .... it's not true," Donnelly had said in his own defence concerning one of the witnesses.

Donnelly still faces sentence on charge of "having fought and made an affray" on the same night during which Jason's friend Liam McWilliams had his jaw fractured outside the Terrace Bar in Omagh's John Street.

Donnelly was found guilty by a jury on the charge of affray at a previous trial.

Following his acquittal of manslaughter, Donnelly was informed he will be sentenced for affray in September and was then released on continuing bail.

After ordering that a pre-sentence report be prepared, Lady Justice Keegan said sentencing for the affray would take place on September, 10, 2016 at Dungannon Crown Court.

Belfast Telegraph

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