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Men to stand trial in McDaid manslaughter case

Kevin McDaid

Kevin McDaid

Twelve men are to stand trial accused of the manslaughter of a Catholic community worker nearly five years ago, a judge has ruled.

Charges were brought against them over the death of Kevin McDaid following an alleged attack linked to a dispute over flags in Coleraine, Co Londonderry.

They are all further accused of attempting to murder his friend Damien Fleming in the same incident.

District Judge Desmond Perry held that each of the defendants has a case to answer on the basis of the prosecution allegations.

With a decision yet to be taken on an application for the trial to be heard without a jury, Crown Court arraignment has been fixed for next month.

Mr McDaid, a 49-year-old father of four, collapsed and died soon after the alleged attack close to his home in the Heights area of the town in May 2009.

Violence was said to have flared on the same day as the Scottish Premier League football title was decided between rivals Rangers and Celtic.

Those accused of his unlawful killing are: Aaron Beech, 28, of John Street, Ballymena; David Craig Cochrane, 23, and David James John Cochrane, 52, both of Windyhall Park, Coleraine; Frank Daly, 52, from Oakland Walk, Coleraine; Rodney Gardner, 45, of Knocklynn Grange, Coleraine; Philip Kane, 39, from Danes Hill Road, Coleraine; James McAfee, 32, of Cloneen Drive, Ballymoney; Christopher McDowell, 37, from Castle Walk Mews, Castlerock; Ivan McDowell, 47, from Taggart Mews, Ballymoney; John McGrath, 54, of Knock Road, Ballymoney; Paul Newman, 49, Nursery Avenue, Ballymoney; and John Thompson, 34, of Knocknougher Road, Macosquin, Coleraine.

During a preliminary investigation hearing at North Antrim Magistrates Court, sitting in Belfast, lawyers for some defendants accepted a prima facie case has been established.

But counsel for Kane argued that there was insufficient evidence against him to warrant the manslaughter and attempted murder charges.

Mr Perry pointed, however, to the prosecution case that “this was a crowd who were intent, they had an animus towards the people they were attacking, brought about by huge quantities of drink and an annoyance caused by the flying of these flags”.

He ruled: “I’m satisfied a case is made out against each and every one of the defendants.”

Appearing together in the dock, all of the accused declined to give evidence or call witnesses at this stage in the case.

Mr Perry then granted a prosecution application to have them returned for Crown Court trial.

The defendants were all released on continuing bail until those proceedings get underway.

Certifying each of them to be represented by two barristers, the judge acknowledged: “It’s clearly a massive case.”

 
 
 

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