Ballycastle killer apologises to victim’s family

Kevin O'Neill who died following an incident at his home at Stroanshesk on Sunday.
Kevin O'Neill who died following an incident at his home at Stroanshesk on Sunday.

A 29-year-old Co Antrim man who admitted killing another man at a house in Ballycastle apologised in court yesterday to the victim’s family for their loss.

Kevin O’Neill, 25, died after he was stabbed in a house in the Stronashesk Park area of the seaside town on April 21 last year.

Appearing in the dock of Antrim Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, was Nigel Thomas Martin McGothigan, formerly from Broombeg in Ballycastle, but whose address was given as HMP Maghaberry.

In March he pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr O’Neill. However, when he was rearraigned on the same charge yesterday, he replied “not guilty to murder, guilty to manslaughter”.

A Crown barrister said: “There has been careful consideration of all the evidence in this case, including medical evidence forwarded on behalf of the defendent, and in these circumstances the plea is accepted.”

Mr Justice Weir ordered the preparation of pre-sentence reports, and suggested that due to McGothigan’s “long history of educational difficulties”, further reports into his background may be beneficial.

McGothigan’s barrister Ciaran Mallon told the court his client was illiterate and left school at the age of 13. The barrister added McGothigan had instructed him “in ease of” Mr O’Neill’s family, to say he was “terribly remorseful and sorry for their tragic loss”.

The Crown barrister said Mr O’Neill’s family is “very measured and restrained” and have dealt with the circumstances “in the most distinguished manner”.

Mr Justice Weir said the plea and sentence would be heard in September before remanding McGothigan back into custody.