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Senior judge warns of prosecution delays in McDaid case

Published 22/02/2014

A SENIOR judge has warned he will not tolerate any further prosecution delays in handing over vital material to defence teams acting for 14 men charged in connection with the manslaughter of Coleraine man Kevin McDaid.

Mr Justice Weir made his comment after he was told that some of the defence teams had yet to receive autopsy photographs and CCTV footage of the killing in May 2009.

In the dock at Belfast Crown Court for an arraignment hearing accused of the unlawful killing of Mr McDaid were: Aaron Beech (28) of John Street, Ballymena; David Craig Cochrane (23) and David James John Cochrane (52) both of Windyhall Park, Frank Daly (52) from Oakland Walk, Rodney Gardner (45) of Knock-lynn Grange, Philip Kane (39) from Danes Hill Road, all Coleraine; James McAfee, (32) of Cloneen Drive, Bally-money; Christopher McDowell (37) from Castle Walk Mews, Castlerock; Ivan McDowell (47) from Taggart Mews, Ballymoney; John McGrath (54) of Knock Road, Ballymoney; Paul Newman (49) Nursery Avenue, Ballymoney; and John Thompson (34) of Knocknougher Road, Macosquin.

They were further accused of attempting to murder Damien Fleming on the same date, causing him grievous bodily harm, assaulting Mr McDaid occasioning him actual bodily harm and unlawful affray.

Frank Daly was also charged with assaulting Mr McDaid's wife Evelyn on the same date and assaulting Leonoa Whitaker.

John Thompson was accused of assaulting Peter Neill and also damaging a PSNI vehicle.

Aaron Beech was accused of assaulting Sonia O'Neill on June 29 2010. Two other Coleraine men are facing separate charges linked to the McDaid case.

John Freeman (24), from Tullans Park, was charged with making threats to kill Sonia O'Neill and Marion O'Neill on June 29 2010.

He was further accused of intimidating Sonia O'Neill who is acting as a crown witness and assault on the same date.

Jonathon Stirling (24), from Windy-hall Park, was charged with threatening to kill and making threats to harm Marion O'Neill on June 29 2010.

All 14 defendants denied the charges.

Although no details were given at the hearing, a preliminary inquiry heard last month that father-of-four Kevin McDaid was targeted as men claiming to be from the UDA launched a violent attack near his home in Coleraine, Co Derry.

His wife Evelyn was also beaten as she tried to aid him while family friend Damien Fleming was also attacked.

Mr McDaid collapsed and died soon after the alleged attack close to his home in the Heights estate.

Defence barrister Joe Brolly for Frank Daly told Mr Justice Weir that he was still waiting on autopsy photographs.

Mr Justice Weir asked prosecuting counsel Ciaran Murphy QC: "Where on earth are these autopsy photographs? Where have they been these past four years? It is very critical to make available these materials. This case been delayed for long enough.

"We do need to get started after Easter. Where is the outstanding matters in relation to the autopsy photographs? Why have these materials not been made available?''

Mr Murphy QC said that any outstanding materials, including CCTV footage, would be made available to the defence teams within seven days. Stating that the trial would be starting after Easter, Mr Justice Weir told both the prosecution and defence teams: "This bus is leaving just after Easter and you better all be on it with your suitcases.''

The case has been listed again for a review hearing on March 14.