Manslaughter trial delayed

Jason McGovern was  found dead at a friend's home in the early hours of New Year's Eve 2012 following a night out in Omagh
Jason McGovern was found dead at a friend's home in the early hours of New Year's Eve 2012 following a night out in Omagh

The trial of a 22-year-old Co Tyrone champion motorcyclist facing charges arising out of the death of Co Monaghan teenager Jason McGovern, has been aborted even before it had the chance of getting under way.

Motocross rider, Mark Donnelly, 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 Year’s Eve, 2012, following a night out in Omagh.

In Dungannon Crown Court on Monday, 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 the jurors 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 preceed 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, are awaiting sentence on other charges arising out of the death of Mr McGovern from Tydavnet, just over the border in Co Monaghan.

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 also reported that a post-mortem examination concluded that he 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 in the village of Mullan, near Emyvale in Monaghan. He was found dead around midday on December 31, 2012.