independent

Friday 18 April 2014

Priest urges killers to 'search their consciences'

Jason McGovern: death being treated as murder

A PRIEST has appealed to the killers of a young man, who died after being savagely attacked on a night out, to search their consciences and contact police.

The plea came as officers confirmed they were treating the death of Jason McGovern as murder.

The 19-year-old died from serious head injuries sustained in two assaults in Omagh.

It is understood that Mr McGovern, from Tydavnet in Co Monaghan, was trying to break up a fight when he was set upon.

The PSNI, aided by Monaghan gardai, is trawling through camera footage from Omagh town centre after witnesses told them the teenager had tried to act as peacemaker.

The detective in charge of the investigation yesterday made an appeal to the gang responsible to contact police.

Det Chief Inspector Richard Harkness said: "Don't delay, come forward. There are two sides to every story. I want to establish the facts."

The family's parish priest, Fr Hubert Martin, also urged the killers to "search their consciences".

Detectives said that shortly before 2am, Mr McGovern and a friend were outside the Terrace Bar at John Street when they encountered five men.

A verbal row erupted and then punches were thrown, with Mr McGovern struck several times on the head and upper body. The group moved down Kevlin Road towards a taxi but were followed by at least three of the gang.

Mr McGovern was confronted and struck again in the face, collapsing to the ground. He was assisted into the taxi by two men who were not part of either fracas.

After returning to his friend's house in Emyvale, Mr McGovern went to bed but was found dead the following morning.

A post-mortem showed he died from a head injury that was the result of the assaults.

Mr McGovern, a second-year drama and theatre management student at Sligo IT, helped care for his mother Kathleen, who has multiple sclerosis. He was an altar server and trained to be a eucharistic minister.

Heartbroken

Fr Martin, who knew Mr McGovern very well, said the family were heartbroken.

Another local priest, Fr Macartan McQuaid, told of a sense around the community of "such a waste of a young life".

The PSNI has appealed for information about a man in his mid-20s, about 5ft 4in in height and of stocky build.

He was wearing a white T-shirt and was involved in the incident outside the Weigh Inn.

A steady stream of neighbours have called to offer their support to Mr McGovern's devastated parents, Seamus and Kathleen, and his older brothers, Niall and Jonathan.

Irish Independent

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