Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Catholic community worker Kevin McDaid died after 'being kicked everywhere possible by loyalists' - court hears

Catholic community worker Kevin McDaid collapsed and died after he was allegedly kicked "everywhere possible" by loyalists, a court heard today.

Father-of-four McDaid was targeted as men claiming to be from the UDA launched a violent attack near his home in Coleraine, Co Derry, a judge was told.

His wife Evelyn was also beaten amid her attempts to aid him while his friend Damien Fleming's head was kicked "like a rugby ball", witnesses claimed.

Details emerged as twelve men appeared in the dock charged with the manslaughter of Mr McDaid, 49, in May 2009.

They are all further accused of attempting to murder Mr Fleming and varying counts of assault and public order offences.

The defendants are: Aaron Beech, 28, of John Street, Ballymena; David Craig Cochrane, 23, and David James John Cochrane, 52, both of Windyhall Park, Coleraine; Frank Daly, 52, from Oakland Walk, Coleraine; Rodney Gardner, 45, of Knocklynn Grange, Coleraine; Philip Kane, 39, from Danes Hill Road, Coleraine; James McAfee, 32, of Cloneen Drive, Ballymoney; Christopher McDowell, 37, from Castle Walk Mews, Castlerock; Ivan McDowell, 47, from Taggart Mews, Ballymoney; John McGrath, 54, of Knock Road, Ballymoney; Paul Newman, 49, Nursery Avenue, Ballymoney; and John Thompson, 34, of Knocknougher Road, Macosquin, Coleraine.

Amid heavy security at North Antrim Magistrates Court, sitting in Belfast, a preliminary investigation got underway to determine whether the defendants have a case to answer at trial.

Mrs McDaid and her sons Mark and Ryan were among witnesses called to recount the alleged attack linked to a dispute over flags in the Heights area of the town.

Testifying via a video-link, she said she heard men arriving and shouting they were from the UDA.

Asked how many, she told the court: "Piles of them. It was like a mob."

She claimed the attack on her husband continued despite her urging some of them to stop.

After recalling how he collapsed after the alleged beating, she added: "I mind shouting at my husband 'fight, fight Kevin' but he was dead."

Violence was said to have flared on the same day as the Scottish Premier League football title was decided between rivals Rangers and Celtic.

Mrs McDaid's friend, Leona Whittaker, claimed she saw Mr Fleming being kicked and jumped on as he lay unconscious.

According to her account one of those allegedly involved "was using his head like a rugby ball... as if he was about to take a kick".

She also told the court how Mr McDaid was either knocked or tripped to the ground.

"A crowd of people just started attacking him, kicking at him as he lay on the ground; everywhere possible, his face, his chest, his sides, his legs," she said.

His wife Evelyn was punched, kicked and pushed back as she tried to help him, Ms Whittaker alleged.

Pregant at the time of the incident, she claimed she was then grabbed and attacked herself.

On being told of her condition her alleged attacker replied "Too bad", the court was told.

Her sister-in-law, Kelly Whittaker, also gave evidence about the events that day.

She claimed around 15 men arrived in the area declaring: "We're here from the UDA and we're here to kick some fenians heads in."

Detailing the alleged attack on Mr Fleming, she told the court how she tried to get those involved to stop.

"I went over and said 'Leave him alone, he's only an auld drunk man' and all I got was 'He's a f****** fenian, he's getting what he deserves'."

Following completion of all witness evidence  District Judge Desmond Perry then adjourned the hearing.

He is due to sit again in the next stage of the hearing at Ballymena Magistrates' Court on January 16.

All of the defendants were released on continuing bail.

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