Mother of man killed in one punch attack asks for leniency for attacker

James McDonagh's mother Roseanna, (left), leaves Belfast Crown Court after a statement from her was read to the court today asking that Finbar McCoy, who threw the fatal punch, not be jailed when he is sentenced next week

The mother of a Castledawson man who died following a 'one punch' attack outside the Elk Bar has called for leniency over the sentence handed to her son's killer.

James McDonagh died from injuries sustained by falling backwards and hitting his head off the ground after he was punched once in the face by Finbar McCoy Junior.

The 28-year old member of the Travelling Community never regained consciousness, and after being brought initially to his mother's house, he was later rushed to hospital, where he died.

Roseanne McDonagh described losing her son as "like having my heart ripped out", but also said she "didn't care" if McCoy went to prison, as the family were more concerned about him accepting responsibility.

Derry Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, heard from Mrs McDonagh as McCoy (26), from Tamlaghduff Road in Bellaghy, was due to sentenced for the manslaughter of her son, in January 2016.

Last year McCoy stood trial, with a jury returning a 'hung' verdict. He was due to go on trial for a second time, however earlier this month he changed his plea and admitted unlawfully killing.

Finbar McCoy who threw one punch killing James McDonagh

During today's hearing, trial judge Mrs Justice Keegan was told McCoy's plea came as he didn't want to put either Mr McDonagh's family or his own through the ordeal of a second trial. She is due to sentence McCoy next week.

The Judge heard about the "devastating" impact Mr McDonagh's death has had on his family, with Crown prosecutor Ciaran Murphy QC saying his grieving mother had acted with extreme dignity and compassion.

Revealing she described losing her son to having her heart ripped out, the prosecutor added Mrs McDonagh said: "When we were in court, I felt sorry for Finbar's mother, father and his family.

"I don't care if Finbar sees the inside of a prison. We just wanted recognition for what he done - causing Jim's death."

Regarding punishment, Mrs McDonagh reiterated her sympathy for McCoy's parents, and said it would be "an awful thing to see your child go to jail."

The fatal incident occurred in the car park of the Elk in Toome in the early hours of January 10th, 2016.

In the hours prior, Mr McDonagh had been socialising in the bar with his nephew, whilst also present at the bistro and bar was the McCoy family, who were celebrating Finbar McCoy Senior's retirement.

Defence barrister Eilish MacDermott QC said it was in the forefront of McCoy's mind that "a young man has lost his life."

The barrister said McCoy was a hard-working man from a happy and stable background, and who - up until January 2016 - was a model citizen who led a structured life.

Telling the court McCoy's regret and remorse was genuine, Ms MacDermott also said several references were available which spoke of her client's integrity.

Mrs Justice Keegan said she wanted time to reflect on matters and scheduled sentencing to take place next Friday. McCoy was remanded back into custody.

James McDonagh

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