Trial delayed into Monaghan teen's death

Published Monday, 23 June 2014
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The trial of a Co Tyrone champion motorcyclist facing charges arising out of the death of teenager Jason McGovern, was aborted on Monday even before it had the chance of getting underway.

Trial delayed into Monaghan teen's death
Jason McGovern's post-mortem concluded he died from a serious head injury. (© Pacemaker)

Motocross rider, Mark Donnelly, 22 and from Greencastle Road, between Greencastle and Mountfield, is accused of the manslaughter of the 19-year-old, who was found dead at a friend's home, hours after allegedly being twice attacked in the early hours of New Years' Eve 2012, following a night-out in Omagh.

On Monday, in Dungannon Crown Court, a jury of seven women and five men were selected to try the case.

The trial itself was due to start on Tuesday in Omagh Crown Court, but before being released for the day, senior lawyers asked that they remain for a time in their jury room.

However, within the hour, Ciaran Murphy QC for the prosecution and defence QC Adrian Colton, returned to tell Judge Gemma Loughran that unfortunately the case could not precede either on Monday or even Tuesday as planned.

There were, said the lawyers, still a number of unresolved issues.

Although the jury had been told the two week trial would hear evidence from up to 30 witnesses and statements from over 30 more, Mr Murphy said that time-scale was no longer feasible.

Judge Loughran said while the unavoidable development would be a disappointment to both the McGovern family and the defendant, a new date would now have to be fixed for the trial.

"I am afraid there is going to be quite a considerable delay," added the judge, who adjourned matters until the beginning of November after being told by Mr Murphy that while a "considerable body of evidence" had been agreed there were still medical issues to be resolved.

Five others from the wider Omagh area, including Donnelly's then girlfriend, Aisling McAleer, 22, are awaiting sentence on other charges arising out of the death Mr McGovern from Tydavnet, just over the border in Co Monaghan.

McAleer, originally from Aghaboy Road, near Greencastle, but now with an address at Slieveard Court, Omagh, admitted perverting the course of public justice by making a false witness statement.

Another Omagh man, Aaron Bradley, 19 and from Waterworks Road in the town, had also been charged with manslaughter, but the charge was thrown out by Judge Loughran in March this year.

Bradley later pleaded guilty to charges of affray and assaulting a friend of Mr McGovern.

Also awaiting sentence for affray are, Aaron Davis, 20 and of Beattie Villas, Edenderry, James O'Brien, 22 and from Rylagh Road, outside Omagh, and Liam Chism, 18 and of Knockloughan.

Although no details surrounding the case were given in court on Monday, at the time police launched an investigation into the death of Mr McGovern, it was reported that a post-mortem examination concluded that the teenager died from a serious head injury.

A High Court bail hearing in October last year was told Mr McGovern became involved in a row when he left a nightclub with a friend. He was knocked to the ground and further assaulted before getting up to get a taxi, according to the prosecution. During the alleged attack, it was claimed that the teenager hit his head on the ground, and was unconscious for a period.

Afterwards he allegedly made his way to a friend's home over the border in the village of Mullan, near Emyvale in Monaghan. He was found dead around midday on 31 December, 2012.

© UTV News
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