Men deny killing Coleraine man

Published Friday, 21 February 2014
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A senior judge warned that he will not tolerate any further prosecution delays in handing over material to defence counsels acting for 14 men charged in connection with the manslaughter of Coleraine man Kevin McDaid.

Men deny killing Coleraine man
Kevin McDaid, who died after a violent attack in Coleraine in 2009. (© Pacemaker)

On Friday Mr Justice Weir made his comment after he was told that some of defence teams had yet to receive autopsy photographs and CCTV footage of the killing which occurred almost five years ago.

In the dock at Belfast Crown Court for an arraignment hearing accused of the unlawful killing of Mr McDaid on 24 May 2009 were: Aaron Beech, 28, of John Street, Ballymena; David Craig Cochrane, 23, and David James John Cochrane, 52, both of Windyhall Park, Coleraine; Frank Daly, 52, from Oakland Walk, Coleraine; Rodney Gardner, 45, of Knocklynn Grange, Coleraine; Philip Kane, 39, from Danes Hill Road, Coleraine; James McAfee, 32, of Cloneen Drive, Ballymoney; Christopher McDowell, 37, from Castle Walk Mews, Castlerock; Ivan McDowell, 47, from Taggart Mews, Ballymoney; John McGrath, 54, of Knock Road, Ballymoney; Paul Newman, 49, Nursery Avenue, Ballymoney and John Thompson, 34, of Knocknougher Road, Macosquin, Coleraine.

They were further accused of attempting to murder Damien Fleming on the same date, causing him grievous bodily harm with intent, assaulting Mr McDaid occasioning him actual bodily harm and an unlawfully fought and made affray.

Frank Daly was also charged with assaulting Mr McDaid's wife Evelyn on the same date, causing her actual bodily harm and assaulting Leonoa Whitaker.

John Thompson was accused of assaulting Peter Neill and also damaging a window pane on a PSNI vehicle.

Aaron Beech was accused of assaulting Sonia O'Neill on 29 June 2010.

John Freeman was charged with making threats to kill Sonia O'Neill and Marion O'Neill on 29 June 2010.

He was further accused of intimidating Sonia O'Neill who is acting as a crown witness and assaulting Sonia O'Neill on the same date.

Jonathan Stirling was charged with threatening to kill and making threats to harm Marion O'Neill on 29 June 2010.

All 14 defendants denied the charges at the arraignment hearing which lasted around 90 minutes.

The court heard that there were 123 witnesses to be called to give evidence on behalf of the Crown.

Mr Justice Weir was also told that DNA expert Professor Dan Crane would be flying in from Ohio in the United States to give evidence for some of the defendants.

Although no details were given at the hearing, a preliminary inquiry heard last month that father-of-four Kevin McDaid was targeted as men claiming to be from the UDA launched a violent attack near his home in Coleraine, Co Londonderry on 24 May 2009.

His wife Evelyn was also beaten amid her attempts to aid him while his friend Damien Fleming's head was kicked "like a rugby ball", witnesses claimed.

Mr McDaid collapsed and died soon after the alleged attack close to his home in the Heights area of the town.

Violence was said to have flared on the same day as the Scottish Premier League football title was decided between rivals Rangers and Celtic.

Defence barrister Joe Brolly for Frank Daly told Mr Justice Weir that he was still waiting on autopsy photographs.

Mr Justice Weir asked prosecuting counsel Ciaran Murphy QC: "Where on earth are these autopsy photographs?

"Where have they been these past four years? It is very critical to make available these materials. This case been delayed for long enough.

"We do need to get started after Easter. Where is the outstanding matters in relation to the autopsy photographs? Why have these materials not been made available?"

Mr Murphy QC said that any outstanding materials, including CCTV footage, would be made available to the defence teams within seven days.

Stating that the trial would be starting after Easter, Mr Justice Weir told both the prosecution and defence teams: "This bus is leaving just after Easter and you better all be on it with your suitcases."

The case has been listed again for a review hearing on Friday 14 March, however, Mr Justice Weir said none of the defendants need to appear on that date.

"We will look at again on that date Mr Murphy to see how many of your promises remain unfulfilled," added Mr Justice Weir.

© UTV News
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