Spiers murder accused admits manslaughter

VICTIM...Portstewart man Trevor Spiers. CR29-138s
VICTIM...Portstewart man Trevor Spiers. CR29-138s

THE man charged with murdering Portstewart man Trevor Spiers has pleaded guilty to his manslaughter.

At Antrim Crown Court, sitting in Coleraine on Thursday morning, 33-year-old Francis Paul McCormick appeared in the dock.

Wearing a dark blue jacket and T-shirt, the defendant stood with his hands folded as Judge David McFarland explained to the jury that there had been “some developments” in the case and asked the court clerk to re-arraign McCormick.

When asked if he pleaded guilty or not guilty to the murder of Trevor Spiers on December 13, 2009, he said not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter.

Judge McFarland then explained to the jury that there would no longer be a trial and that they were were no longer required.

He explained that McCormick had admitted being responsible for the death of Trevor Spiers outside Shenanigans nightclub in Portstewart in 2009 but that he did not “intend to kill him or cause him serious harm”.

He said that McCormick would be sentenced for the charge of manslaughter on March 30 at Coleraine.

Defence for McCormick asked that a pre-sentence report be compiled before the sentencing.

It was also requested that, pending sentencing, McCormick be released on continuing bail to reside at his mother’s address at Queens Court in Coleraine.

Defence highlighted the fact that since he had originally been released on bail, McCormick had not breached any of his bail conditions.

He had been living in Manchester, as per his bail conditions, but had moved his belongings back to Coleraine for the duration of the planned trial. Defence asked that he be allowed to remain in Coleraine.

Judge McFarland confirmed that the bail conditions still held - that he resides at his mother’s address, does not enter licensed premises, does not consume alcohol, abides by a curfew, does not contact anyone involved in the case, does not enter Portrush or Portstewart town centres or a designated pedestrian area of Coleraine.

The judge then asked did any member of the Spiers family live in the Coleraine area in case they might come into contact with McCormick.

It was ascertained that Mr Spiers’ mother lives in Coleraine.

“As I am not concerned about a flight risk, I would be minded to grant bail,” said Judge McFarland.

“I have no major concern that there would be a deliberate confrontation but I would be concerned that there could be an innocent meeting which would be difficult for Trevor Spiers’ mother.

“It would be awkward and inappropriate for him to meet any member of the Spiers family.”

Following discussions with Mr Spiers’ mother, who was in court, it was agreed that the bail conditions as they stood would, as far as possible, negate that risk.

Judge McFarland released McCormick on bail but added: “This should give him no indication as to the sentence he will receive. A custodial sentence is inevitable in this case.”

McCormick will appear at Antrim Crown Court, sitting in Coleraine, on March 30 to be sentenced.