Jason McGovern killing: Jury to consider verdict

Mark Donnelly has denied throwing the punch that caused the death of Jason McGovern. Picture: BBC
Mark Donnelly has denied throwing the punch that caused the death of Jason McGovern. Picture: BBC

A jury will return to consider its verdict on Friday in the trial of Tyrone man Mark Donnelly, who is accused of causing the unlawful death of Co Monaghan teenager Jason McGovern following a night out in Omagh on December 31 2012.

They had been deliberating for just over an hour and a half when Dungannon Crown Court trial judge, Her Honour Judge McReynolds, sent them home for the day.

Earlier, the jury had heard the prosecution describe 23-year-old Donnelly as being either a “cowardly liar” or the “unluckiest man alive”, while the defence argued the evidence against him was “a catalogue of errors ... flawed ... mistaken in a number of key respects”.

Donnelly, who gave his address as Greencastle, between Omagh and Cookstown, has refuted any suggestion he threw the killer punch which floored the 19-year-old from Tydavnet, Co Monaghan, fracturing his skull, and causing bleeding to the brain, ultimately leading to his death.

Judge McReynolds, in her outline of the case, said Jason’s death was “very emotive”, and instructed the jury to approach their deliberations “without sympathy ... quite clinically”.

Prosecution QC Liam McCollum said while they were not saying Donnelly intended to kill the teenager, he was responsible for the “very tragic consequences” of the attack, the death of Jason McGovern.

Mr McCollum went on to contrast the actions of young Jason that night, with those of Donnelly. Jason, said the lawyer, could be seen on CCTV despite “extreme provocation … did his best to defuse a volatile situation ... trying to steer an irate and angry friend” to their taxi home.

However, at the same time, although not captured on security footage, Donnelly, he claimed, delivered his unexpected and “severe and cowardly blow” to the teenager. But unfortunately for the Tyrone man it was witnessed by an 18-year-old girl and a taxi driver.

“This is a man who would do anything to save his own skin,” claimed Mr McCollum, who added later that Donnelly had given “vague and dishonest evidence”.

Defence QC Sean Doran claimed the evidence of the main prosecution witness “is very much flawed”.

He said that there was a “lot of CCTV footage in this case”, but that the trial had nothing to do with events before the attack in the Weigh Inn car park.

Mr Doran said that what the case was about was “the incident that was not captured on CCTV” and the evidence of the “key prosecution witness, the central prosecution witness”, who claimed to identify Donnelly as the attacker.

Mr Doran said there were “too many problems with the evidence for you to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt of the guilt of this young man”.