Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Killer punch in Derry bar row ‘sparked by land deal row’

Gary Butcher

UP to 50 people witnessed an attack in a bar which resulted in the death of a 39-year-old father, a court has been told.

Father-of-one Gary Butcher died after his head struck a wall as he fell following a single punch to his face in the Bob's Bistro & Bar premises at Magilligan in the early hours of last Saturday morning.

The victim's neighbour, Sean William Doherty (19), an apprentice bricklayer from Limestone Road in Magilligan, appeared in court in Londonderry yesterday charged with manslaughter.

District Judge Barney McElholm was told that the Butcher and Doherty families have been involved in a long-running dispute over a land deal and that in recent times tensions between the two families had increased.

PSNI Inspector Jennifer Bryson told the court that both the deceased and the defendant were in the bar at Seacoast Road, about seven miles from Limavady, when an argument about the land deal started.

The police officer said that about 50 people were in the bar at the time and many of them have told investigating officers that they saw the defendant punch Mr Butcher once in the face.

Denis Maloney, defence solicitor, said that his client “had been open and frank with the police, fully admitting his involvement in the incident that led to Gary Butcher's death”.

He said: “Indeed my client, and indeed the entire Doherty family, will be haunted for the rest of their lives by the death of their neighbour, friend and someone with whom they socialised and attended sporting events and he offers his heartfelt sympathy to the Butcher family.”

The District Judge released the defendant on his own bail of £5,000 together with two sureties each of £1,000 to appear in court again on August 16.

As part of his bail conditions the defendant must stay out of the Magilligan area and must also report twice daily to the police.

Mr McElholm also banned the defendant from consuming alcohol and further ordered him not to have any contact with any witnesses in the case.