A 19-year-old student is to stand trial for the manslaughter of a Co Fermanagh schoolboy who died following a playground incident nearly two years ago.
Francis McDermott, of Camphill Park, Newtownbutler, appeared before Fermanagh Magistrates Court on Monday he was returned for trial accused of unlawfully killing 13-year-old Oisín McGrath. He died following the incident at St Michael’s College, Enniskillen, on February 9, 2015.
Members of the McGrath family, including the schoolboy’s parents, Nigel and Sharon, were in the Enniskillen court for the short preliminary enquiry, after which District Judge Peter King said he was “satisfied” McDermott, a first-year university student, had a case to answer.
However, beforehand, defending solicitor, Myles McManus, asked to make a statement on behalf of his client.
Mr McManus told the court he was “specifically instructed on behalf of the defendant to express his continuing sympathy to the family of the deceased, and understanding the stress that the criminal justice system has had and may impose on them, we will endeavour to mitigate that loss as far as possible.
“What happened on February 9, 2015 has devastated two families. While we have instructions to represent Francis McDermott, he and his family have asked that we state publicly that their ordeal is nothing compared to the loss and devastation that the death of Oisín McGrath has caused to his family.
“Francis will carry the memory and affect of what happened in the schoolyard on that day with him for the rest of his life.”
The solicitor added: “While we seek to represent Francis to the best of our ability, our intention is to try to minimise the pain that we know that this process will have for the McGrath family.”
District judge, Peter King, replied that Mr McManus had expressed “laudable sentiments” in the context of an extremely difficult set of circumstances.
While prosecuting counsel, Simon Reid, submitted that on the case papers, the defendant had a case to answer, Mr McManus, replied that this was not formally conceded, although he had no contrary submissions to make at this stage.
McDermott was released on his own bail of £500 for arraignment before Dungannon Crown Court next month.