Northern Ireland

Jason McGovern: Mark Donnelly acquitted in 'one punch' manslaughter case

Jason McGovern Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Jason McGovern died after being attacked during a night out in Omagh

A County Tyrone man accused of the 'one punch' killing of 19-year-old Jason McGovern from County Monaghan, has been formally acquitted of his manslaughter.

Mr McGovern died after being attacked on a night out in Omagh, County Tyrone, on New Year's Eve in 2012.

Mark Donnelly, 23, from Greencastle had pleaded not guilty to manslaughter.

He was acquitted after the prosecution offered no evidence. Mr Donnelly had previously faced three trials in connection with the teenager's death.

Mr McGovern was found dead in the County Monaghan home of a friend hours after he was attacked in a car park.

A prosecution lawyer told Dungannon Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, that the crown was "offering no evidence" on the manslaughter charge.

The judge then instructed the jury of seven men and five women to find Mr Donnelly "not guilty by direction".

"This case was due to start today for a hearing which would have lasted a number of weeks," she told the court.

'Not guilty'

"There have been developments in the case, and as a result of that, the prosecution are not offering any evidence on the charge before the court in relation to the defendant.

"I am directing you to find the defendant not guilty."

Mr Donnelly was last before the courts last June but the jury was unable to reach a verdict in the case.

That was the second time a jury had failed to reach a verdict in the case.

Another trial had to be aborted for legal reasons.

Mr Donnelly is still to be sentenced on a charge of "having fought and made an affray" on the same night during which Jason's friend Liam McWilliams had his jaw fractured outside a bar in John Street in Omagh.

He was found guilty of that charge at a previous trial.

Following his acquittal of manslaughter, Mr Donnelly was informed he will be sentenced for affray in September and was released on continuing bail.

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