Defendant either liar or victim of mistaken identity manslaughter jury told

A CO TYRONE man accused of killing a teenager is either a cold liar unable to face what he has done or an innocent wrongly identified by a flawed witness, jury heard yesterday.

The differing descriptions of Mark Donnelly (22) came in final submissions from prosecution and defence lawyers at the end of his six-day manslaughter trial.

Mr Donnelly denies delivering a punch which floored Jason McGovern (19), of Tydavnet, Co Monaghan, and which the prosecution say led to his death on New Year's Eve 2012.

Ciaran Murphy QC, prosecuting, told Dungannon Crown Court that Mr Donnelly was present when one of the victim's friends had his jaw fractured outside the Terrace Bar on John Street, Omagh - an incident during which Mr McGovern was also attacked.

He said Mr Donnelly was also not only present during a second attack in the Weigh Inn car park on Kelvin Road but was the person who struck the killer blow, knocking the teenager to the ground where he struck his head.

He described the defend-ant's claims that he knew nothing of this attack as a "big lie".

Mr Murphy said Mr Donnelly's "no comment" police interviews showed him to be a "cold individual who was keeping his mouth shut because he did not want to let something slip that would implicate him in a death that he knew he was responsible for".

He said he had blamed not only his solicitor but other factors such as lack of recall, in particular relating to the initial fight in John Street where he said he raised an arm to defend himself and not to deliver a punch.

Mr Murphy said he also blamed the witness who put him in the car park throwing the fatal punch and claimed the arresting officer was wrong when she said he asked his girlfriend whether she had washed the shirt he was wearing that night.

Adrian Coltane QC, defending, said his client, of Green-castle Road, Omagh, was an innocent man misidentified as the attacker.

He said there were flaws in the evidence of witness Shannon Skelton which could not easily be explained away, suggesting that even honest people can make mistakes about

* DIED ON NEW YEAR'S EVE: Jason McGovern what they saw.

Mr Coltane also said it could not be discounted that the teenager fractured his skull in another way.

He said this could have happened by hitting his head against a car during an earlier fight or possibly by falling out of bed and striking a wooden floor when he returned to a friend's home in Mullan, Co Monaghan.

The jury will retire to consider their verdict in the case today after Judge Stephen Fowler reviews the case and the law surrounding it.

* ACCUSED: Mark Donnelly outside Dungannon Crown Court earlier this week. Mr Donnelly's barrister said his client was an innocent man misidentified as Jason McGovern's attacker

PICTURE: Justin Kernoghan/Photopress


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