‘The truth has come out’

A COOKSTOWN man’s admission of guilt after the death of a Ballinderry footballer outside Mint nighclub two years ago has allowed the truth to finally come out, the deceased’s family has said.

Conor McCusker died two days after being assaulted outside the James Street premises in 2009 and on Tuesday 23-year-old Chris Murphy from Tullagh Drive pleaded guilty to his manslaughter.

The victim, a brother of Derry player Niall McCusker, suffered serious head injuries on a night out in April 2009 after being pushed into a pillar. He underwent emergency surgery at the Royal Victoria Hospital but died two days later due to a build-up of blood on the brain.

Relatives of Mr McCusker were reported to have looked shocked when Murphy entered his plea on Tuesday and, speaking outside the courtroom the family said they were emotional but glad the truth had come out.

Earlier this year, following a six-week trial during throughout which Murphy maintained his innocence, a jury failed to reach a verdict on the manslaughter charge, but convicted him of assaulting Mr McCusker, causing him grievous bodily harm.

Speaking after that case the McCusker family said they were “appalled” and vowed to continue to search for justice for the 31-year-old. A family spokesperson said: “Justice has not been served for Conor, and we intend to continue the fight for justice for him. After the loss of Conor, the family has endured over two years of waiting for trial, almost six weeks of a trial, and the family now has to continue the search for justice.”

Tuesday was due to be the first day of Murphy’s retrial on the manslaughter charge but he pled guilty when it was put to him. Murphy was released on bail ahead of pre-sentence reports and is due to be sentenced in December.