Northern Ireland

Francis O'Neill murder case - trial of teen aborted

Francis O'Neill
Image caption Francis O'Neill was found dead at his home in Omagh last year

The trial of a teenager accused of the murder of a retired psychiatric nurse has been aborted for legal reasons, just two days before it was due to end.

The youth, who cannot be named because of his age, will face a new trial for the April 2009 murder of 78-year-old Francis O'Neill.

Mr Justice McLaughlin said it was a "difficult, regrettable" decision to end the trial.

He said it was "no-one's fault" but was taken in the interest of justice.

The jury, who have been exempted from further service for ten years, heard that Mr O'Neill was strangled to death and also stabbed in the neck.

The teenager, who denies the murder, allegedly carried out the killing to get money to pay his rent to a friend.

The teenager later allegedly told police that he had found the 78-year-old pensioner dead in his Brook Valley home in Omagh.

When paramedics arrived they found Mr O'Neill sitting upright in a chair in his living room and that while there were no visible signs of injury, there was a small amount of blood on his jumper.

A post mortem examination later revealled that death was due to strangulation, either by hand, or by holding Mr O'Neill in an arm-lock.

He had also been stabbed in the right side of his neck, but this was found to have played no part in his death.

It had been hoped that the jury in the trial, following final submissions, would have retired to consider their verdict by Thursday of this week at the latest.

A new jury will be selected to re-try the case in September or early October.