Northern Ireland news

Oísín McGrath died after a slap or punch to the head delivered 'without malice', court hears

Oísín McGrath

A SCHOOLYARD prank involving a football sparking a chase and ultimately a slap or punch about the head resulted in the untimely and tragic death of Belcoo schoolboy Oisin McGrath three days later.

Dungannon Crown Court also heard that 20-year-old student Francis McDermott, who admitted punching 13-year-old Oisin, will have to live with the horrific consequences of what he did for the rest of his life.

McDermott, of Camphill Park, Newtownbutler, was a 17-year-old sixth former at St Michael's College in Enniskillen along with Oisin at the time of the school playground tussle over a football.

Judge Stephen Fowler QC, who said it was clear the schoolboy undoubtedly was a well loved son and grandson, told McDermott, now a university engineering student that he will pass sentence on him next week.

Members of Oisin's family, including his parents, Nigel and Sharon, were in court as prosecution counsel Ciaran Murphy QC revealed that the schoolboy died from a traumatic basal subarachnoid haemorrhage to the neck, caused by blunt force trauma.

Mr Murphy said while the blow struck by McDermott was both intentional and unlawful, it was however, delivered without malice, not motivated by animosity, nor severe during an attempt by him to recover a football.

In mitigation defence QC Martin Rodgers said it was difficult to conceive of a more tragic case than the untimely schoolboy's death.

However, Mr Rodgers described his client's case as exceptional and peculiar among the many one-punch cases in Northern Ireland bereft as it was of many of the aggravating factors including public disorder, alcohol abuse or malice between the parties.

Oisin's family then left court not wishing to say anything or to comment on the proceedings.

Francis McDermott

In the days following the teenager's death it was reported that his family had allowed his organs to be used to save the lives of five other people.

It also emerged that his parents later set up a trust in their son's name and memory, aimed at raising awareness in organ donation and brain injury research.

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