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McDaid trial set to begin

Published 30/04/2014

Maeve Connolly

THE trial is expected to begin next week of 14 men charged in connection with the death of Kevin McDaid, almost five years after he was killed in Coleraine.

A judge at Belfast Crown Court granted an adjournment yesterday to allow prosecutors time to examine disclosure material relating to one of the defendants.

Twelve men are charged with the father-of-four's manslaughter as well as the attempted murder of his friend Damien Fleming and other counts of assault and public order offences.

The remaining two defendants are charged with making threats to kill.

All are being tried without a jury in a 'Diplock' case.

Mr McDaid (49) collapsed and died outside his Somerset Drive home in the Heights estate in Coleraine after an alleged attack on May 24 2009.

A gang of men had entered the Killowen area of the Heights to remove tricolours and Celtic flags after Rangers won the Scottish Premier-ship title, it is claimed.

Ciaran Murphy, prosecuting, told Mr Justice Weatherup yesterday that disclosure material relating to defendant John Thompson had

come to the PPS at a late stage and asked for a 48-hour adjournment to allow senior counsel to consider it.

Mr Murphy added that because the disclosure issue had come to light at such a late stage, it was unlikely the trial would be go ahead tomorrow.

The case is expected to last up to six weeks and the court has already heard that 123 witnesses have been agreed and several defence teams are employing the services of a DNA expert from Ohio.

The defendants are: David Craig Cochrane (23) and David James John Cochrane (52) both with addresses in Windyhall Park in Coleraine; Aaron Beech (28) of John Street in Ballymena; Frank Simpson Daly (53) of Oakland Walk, Coleraine; Christopher McDowell (38) from Castle Walk Mews in Castlerock; John McGrath (55) of Knock Road, Dervock; Paul Andrew Newman (49) of Knock Road, Ballymoney; John Thompson (34), Knocknougher Road, Macosquin; James McAfee (32) from Cloneen Drive in Ballymoney; Ivan Beattie McDowell (47) of Taggart Mews, Ballymoney; and Philip Kane (39) of Danes Hill Road, and Rodney Gardner (45) from Knocklynn Grange, both in Coleraine.

In addition, Frank Daly is charged with assaulting Mr McDaid's widow Evelyn and assaulting Leona Whitaker on the same date.

John Thompson is accused of assaulting Peter Neill and damaging the window of a PSNI van.

Aaron Beech is charged with affray and assaulting Sonia O'Neill on June 29 2010.

Johnathon Stirling is charged with threatening to kill and making threats to harm Marion O'Neill on the same date.

The two Coleraine men who are not accused of manslaughter and attempted murder are Jonathan Norman Stirling (25), of Windyhall Park, who is charged with making threats to kill and threats to harm to Marion O'Neill, and John Freeman (24) from Tullans Park, who is charged with making threats to kill Sonia O'Neill and Marion O'Neill on the same date and of intimidating and assaulting Sonia O'Neill, who is acting as a crown witness.