Northern Ireland news

Man (23) to stand trial in the new year charged in connection with 'one punch' killing

Darren O'Neill died in hospital

A 23-year-old man was was told today he will stand trial next year on a charge of unlawfully killing west Belfast man Darren O'Neill.

Mr O'Neill died in hospital on June 29 last year, two days after what police described as a 'one-punch' incident on Tyrella Beach near Newcastle, Co Down.

Joseph Dorrian appeared at a remote hearing of Downpatrick Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, where he was charged with a single count of manslaughter.

Also present via a videolink were members of Mr O'Neill's family - some of whom wore t-shirts bearing images of the 22-year old.

From Lakeview in Crumlin, Dorrian - who appeared via a videolink with his solicitor's office - confirmed he could see and hear the court.

He was then charged with manslaughter, and when asked how he pleaded to the unlawful killing of Darren O'Neill on June 29 2019, Dorrian replied "not guilty."

Defence barrister Martin Morgan told Judge Geoffrey Miller QC that he is scheduled to consult with Dorrian via Zoom this Thursday. The barrister also told Judge Miller that he believed the trial will last around two weeks.

Saying it was unlikely that the trial will be held before Christmas, Judge Miller said he would review the case in November and expressed the hope a trial date could be fixed then.

Addressing Dorrian, Judge Miller said that, as he had pleaded not guilty to manslaughter, he will now face a trial.

He told the accused: "It is unlikely that will be any time before the start of 2021. All of that will be kept under review in light of the on-going restrictions that we are all enduring at this time."

Dorrian was released on continuing bail and the case was re-listed for review on November 6.

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Northern Ireland news