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Final two defendants are cleared in McDaid case

Kevin McDaid pictured with his son Lee. Pic Kevin McAuley Photography Multimedia

Kevin McDaid pictured with his son Lee. Pic Kevin McAuley Photography Multimedia

Thursday saw the end of the Kevin McDaid trial at Belfast Laganside courthouse which lasted 11 days.

Forteen men had been expected to go on trial accused of a variety of charges in relation to the 2009 incident.

Twelve of them faced offences arising from the death of the Catholic father, all twelve have now been clearned of manslaughter and attempted murder charges.

In separate hearings over the eleven days, the accused began entering guilty pleas.

On Thursday, the prosecution told trial judge Mr Justice Weatherup that having reviewed all the evidence in the case against the final two defendants - David James John Cochrane, 52 and from Windyhall Park, and Philip Edwin Kane, 39 and from The Crescent, and having taken instructions from the Public Prosecution Service, “I offer no evidence”.

Following this declaration, lawyers Peter Irvine QC and Lawrence McCrudden QC “invited” the Judge to acquit the Coleraine men of the manslaughter of the father of four, who died five years ago this month.

The Belfast Crown Court judge also formally entered verdicts of not guilty on four other charges including the attempted murder of Mr McDaid’s friend Damien Fleming, assaulting Mr McDaid, causing grievous bodily harm to Mr Fleming, and also of causing an affray on 29 May, 2009.

Mr Justice Weatherup was later told by the prosecution that the families involved had been made aware of the situation through a series of meetings during which all were “being kept informed”.

He had asked the prosecution if the families were being “kept aware of what is going on, from day to day”, as they and others “may not understand what has happened and why we are where we are today”.

The cases of the remaining accused, none of whom are now directly charged with the unlawful killing or attempted murder, will be reviewed again early next month, when a possible date for sentence will be fixed.

Mr Justice Weatherup said there were a number of pre-sentence reports to be prepared, and he was “not sure when that will be achieved”, adding he did not want to put “any additional pressure on the Probation Service” in coming up with the reports.

The prosecution also told the court that they had asked the victims - in particular Mr McDaid’s widow Evelyn and Mr Fleming - if they wished to make statements for victim impact reports.

Last Tuesday, John Thompson, 34, from Knocknougher Road in Macosquin and 49-year-old Paul Newman from Nursery Avenue in Ballymoney pleaded guilty to lesser offences of assault and grievous bodily harm in connection with the attack.

Both Thompson and Newman pleaded guilty as a secondary party to causing grievous bodily harm with intent to Mr Fleming on May 24, 2009, and they also admitted assaulting Mr McDaid causing him actual bodily harm on the same date.

The pair also pleaded guilty to affray, while Thompson admitted damaging the window of a police vehicle.

On Wednesday, John McGrath, 54 and of Knock Road, Ballymoney, had manslaughter and attempted murder charges dropped. He pleaded guilty as a secondary party to causing grievous bodily harm with intent to Damien Fleming.

The defendant also admitted assaulting Mr McDaid causing him actual bodily harm on the same date as a secondary part and causing affray.

 
 
 

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