Published Thursday, 15 May 2014
Kevin McDaid, who died after a violent attack in Coleraine in 2009. (© Pacemaker)
Mr McDaid, 49, collapsed and died after a group of loyalists launched a violent attack near his Somerset Drive home in the Heights area of the Co Londonderry town in May 2009 which occurred on the same day as the Scottish Premier League football title was decided between rivals Rangers and Celtic.
The prosecution told trial judge Mr Justice Weatherup that "having reviewed all the evidence in the case against the two defendants 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 Coleraine men David James John Cochrane, 52 and from Windyhall Park, and Philip Edwin Kane, 39 and from The Crescent 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.
Thursday's acquittals sees the end of the case which began 11 days ago, when some 14 men, warders, police and press, divided families and members of the public squeezed into court 12 of Belfast's Laganside courthouse.
The 14 were expected to go on trial accused of a variety of charges - including 12 of them who faced offences arising from the death of the Catholic community worker.
Over the following days, the accused in separate hearings began entering guilty pleas to a number of offences arising out of the unlawful killing.
However, in the wake of those pleas, the prosecution, where appropriate, asked for the manslaughter and attempted murder charges "not to be proceeded with without leave of this court or the Court of Appeal".
© UTV News