Tyrone man awaits verdict in trial over teenager’s death in Omagh

Jason McGovern  who was found dead at a house in Emyvale, Monaghan
Jason McGovern who was found dead at a house in Emyvale, Monaghan

The jury in the trial of 22-year-old Tyrone man Mark Donnelly have retired to deliberate whether he is guilty or innocent of the unlawful killing of Co Monaghan teenager Jason McGovern.

Donnelly from Greencastle, on the outskirts of Omagh, denies affray and not only the manslaughter of the 19-year-old but has also pleaded not guilty to an alternative charge of assaulting the teenager from Tydavnet.

Mr McGovern was found dead in the Co Monaghan, Mullan, home of a friend on New Years’ Eve 2012 after being attacked after a night out with friends, in Omagh. A post mortem revealed he had a fractured skull and died from bleeding on the brain.

On Wednesday morning, Judge Stephen Fowler QC told the jury of six men and four women, to disregard any feelings of sympathy, bias, or prejudice for or against Donnelly during their deliberations, whom the prosecution claim, delivered the killer punch which resulted in the death of the teenager.

Judge Fowler also told the jury that while CCTV coverage of the area appeared to show Mr McGovern as a “peacemaker” that night, they should not have any sympathy for the young man who had his life in front of him.

The prosecution claim that Donnelly can’t face up to what he did, and that his denials were little more than cold lies, which were a badge, a hallmark of his dishonesty.

They also claim that the calculating, cynical and manipulating Donnelly, was clearly identified as the man in the white shirt who’s truck the fatal blow.

However the defence say he is an innocent man who had been identified by a flawed but honest witness.

They also claimed that there were discrepancies in her evidence that cannot be explained away.

The defence also contended that the Mr McGovern’s fatal injury may have been caused by his hitting his head on a car during an earlier row, or that he may have fallen out of bed in his friend’s home and hit his head off the hard wooden floor.

As part of his closing remarks Judge Fowler also warned the jury that even an honest and convincing witness can be mistaken in their identifying evidence.

He added that they should look closely at both the general and specific circumstances of the identification evidence from the main prosecution witness Shannon Skelton.