Northern Ireland

Jason McGovern killing: Mark Donnelly denies Omagh killing

Jason McGovern Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Jason McGovern was found dead at a house in County Monaghan

The trial of a County Tyrone man accused of the manslaughter of teenager Jason McGovern has opened in Dungannon.

Mr McGovern, 19, from Tydavnet, County Monaghan, was found dead at a friend's house after he was attacked in Omagh on New Year's Eve in 2012.

Mark Donnelly, 22, from Greencastle Road, Omagh, denies manslaughter and affray.

The court was told that Jason McGovern had travelled to the town to enjoy a night out with his friends.

When they left a bar to get a taxi home, he and his friend, Liam Williams were subjected to what the prosecution called an "unprovoked assault" by a group of young men.

The jury was shown CCTV footage from the scene. Mr Williams suffered a fractured jaw.

Four other people had since admitted a charge of affray, the jury heard.

Mr McGovern was attacked a second time, a short time later, near a car park on Kelvin Road in the Tyrone town.

Witnesses said they saw him being punched once. He fell and hit his head on the ground and appeared to be unconscious.

He returned to his friend's house in Mullan, County Monaghan, where he was found dead at about midday.

He died as a result of bleeding to the brain caused by a fractured skull.

When he was arrested and charged with manslaughter, Mr Donnelly told police he was "definitely not guilty". He denied assaulting anyone.

The prosecution claimed that Mr Donnelly gave an evasive account to hide what he had done, and that while he did not intend to kill, he had been responsible for Jason McGovern's death.

'Powerful swing'

A witness, Shannon Skelton, told the court she had been waiting for a lift at the car park on Kelvin Road when she saw a young man staggering down the hill.

She said he looked drunk and put his hand on a pillar at the entrance to the car park to steady himself.

She said she saw a group of boys she knew, with Mark Donnelly in the front.

"Mark Donnelly swung for him - it was a massive powerful swing," she said.

"He just fell back and his head hit the ground. There was a massive thump."

She later picked out the accused on a DVD identity procedure at the police station.

Under cross-examination, she was asked if someone else had not punched Mr McGovern.

She denied she was trying to distance another man involved in the earlier fight with whom she was good friends.

The trial is expected to last two weeks.

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