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Family's pain as man cleared of killing publican

THE family of an Offaly publican who died after being beaten during a burglary have said they are heartbroken after a man was acquitted of his manslaughter.

MATT Farrell (64) suffered heart failure after he was beaten, bound with a dog lead and left to die during a burglary at the Gaelic Bar, Daingean, Co Offaly, on April 1, 2009.

Eddie Wing (31), with a previous address at Roscrea, Co Tipperary, had pleaded not guilty to the unlawful killing of Mr Farrell.

During the trial, the main prosecution witness was described as a "jailhouse informant" and gave evidence that Wing confessed to the killing while the pair shared a cell in the Midlands Prison in late 2009. This witness, who was not named, is a convicted burglar and a former heroin addict.

Around a month after his release from prison in December 2009 he went to gardai and told them Wing broke down in tears in front of him and said he had killed Mr Farrell.

There was no physical evidence connecting Wing to the crime and under oath Wing told the court that the prison informant was lying, adding that he didn't know why.

The jury were warned a number of times of the dangers associated with the evidence from so-called jailhouse informants.

The jury of seven men and five women spent just over four hours over two days considering the verdict.

Members of Mr Farrell's family cried out when the verdict was read out.

"Family and friends are all disappointed. We thought a guilty verdict would come and it didn't so we're all heartbroken," said Matthew Farrell, a son of the dead publican.

Asked about the impact of his death on his family he said: "We went through a lot the last three years. It's not a natural death so to deal with that was very hard. It's been a long time."

Describing his father, he said: "He was well loved. He was great. Everyone respected him. He ran the pub and he used to get on very well with everyone."

Judge Patrick McCartan thanked the jury for their service and said it had been a difficult case given the sad events involved.

After the verdict had been read out, Wing was remanded in custody at Cloverhill prison on other unrelated charges.