Accused 'tried to save' river victim

Published Friday, 11 May 2012
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A man accused of killing Ballymena 21-year-old Owen McKeown says he actually dived into the River Bann to try and save the deceased's life.

Accused 'tried to save' river victim
Family and friends carry the coffin of Mr McKeown at his funeral in Ballymena. (© Pacemaker)

Mr McKeown drowned when he entered the water near Kilrea moments after he was involved in a fight with local man Darren Joseph Casey, 26, from Millfield in Ballymena.

The police say the victim met Casey last Saturday in order to buy illegal steroid drugs, but there was an altercation and Casey hit Mr McKeown.

Detectives believe Mr McKeown fled from his attacker and jumped in the river. After a major search operation, his body was found the next day.

Defence lawyers, however, disputed the police version of events.

A barrister at Coleraine Magistrates Court on Friday said Darren Casey had gone voluntarily to the town's police station on Sunday night.

Casey admitted he had been fighting with Owen McKeown, but claimed the deceased attacked him first.

He suggested that Mr McKeown ran off towards the river, but Casey went after him and shouted to him not to enter the water.

Police agreed that four canoeists saw Casey strip off and dive into the Bann to try and save the victim.

The defence said there was no evidence to connect Casey to a manslaughter charge.

Casey denies the unlawful killing. He faces two further charges connected to possessing steroids with intent to supply.

He has been remanded in custody.

Meanwhile Owen McKeown has been buried after his funeral took place at All Saints Parish Church in Ballymena.

© UTV News
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