Two of the three people accused of murdering father-of-four James McFadden outside his Londonderry home two years ago have admitted killing him.
In a dramatic development in the trial at Derry Crown Court sitting in Coleraine, James Meehan (39) and Sean Devenney (21) both pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of 42-year-old Mr McFadden who died from a ruptured heart when he sustained blows and kicks to his chest after he had returned home with his family from the wedding reception of his wife's sister in Donegal.
Defendants James Meehan and Sean Devenney are jointly charged together with Devenney's mother Brenda Meehan (40) all of them from Dundrean Park in Galliagh, with murdering Mr McFadden on May 5, 2007.
However just before the first civilian witness was due to give her evidence in the murder trial, which is expected to last six weeks, barrister Brian McCartney QC, who represents James Meehan, and barrister Eilish MacDermott QC, who represents Sean Devenney, both asked for their clients to be re-arraigned on the murder charge.
Both defendants stood in the dock, alongside Brenda Meehan, who remained seated, when the murder charge was put to them by the court clerk.
James Meehan and Sean Devenney both replied: “Not guilty to murder but guilty of manslaughter.”
Members of the McFadden family, among them the murder victim's wife Ita, reacted visibly to the admission by James Meehan and Sean Devenney that they had killed James McFadden.
However prosecution barrister John Orr QC said he was not in a position to accept Meehan and Devenney's admissions of manslaughter.
“I have taken instructions in respect of this matter and my instructions are that these pleas are not accepted and that the case will continue on the charges of murder against all three defendants,” he said. The trial continues.