Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Irish League footballer died after he was punched 14 times, court told

A former Irish League footballer was punched up to 14 times in an attack which led to his death, a court has heard.

Prosecutors told Belfast High Court that the victim, David Mills, was in a feud with John Foster, the man charged with his murder.

Mr Mills (47) died in hospital from injuries inflicted during a night out in Ballynahinch, Co Down on September 29.

Foster, an unemployed bricklayer from Carrigvale, Dundrum, said he acted in self-defence. Despite being told of fears for his safety and alleged threats posted on Facebook, a judge granted Foster (30) temporary bail to see his new-born son.

Mr Mills, a keen sportsman, had been out at a cricket club before the confrontation occurred, according to the prosecution.

It was alleged that Foster called him “a f****** b******” as he went to get a Chinese takeaway.

Kate McKay, prosecuting, said Mr Mills then walked after him and some sort of fight occurred.

She claimed: “This applicant punched the deceased and he fell to the ground. It would appear there were a number of punches, namely 14 punches, while Mr Mills lay on the ground.

“At one stage he was seen to lift the deceased up and throw him back down again.”

CCTV cameras captured the incident. Police found Mr Mills lying unconscious and covered in blood.

He was given emergency first aid and taken to hospital, but died the following morning.

Mrs McKay confirmed that he and the victim knew each other.

“It appears there was some kind of feud the police were aware of, but they don't really know the details,” the barrister added.

She said police had concerns for Foster's safety if he was granted overnight bail, due to feelings in the community.

Defence counsel Noel Dillon said Foster claims Mr Mills behaved threateningly towards him.

He contended that the victim approached his client before the two men start to fight and roll around on the ground.

“This is not a case of stamping or kicking or any weapon used,” Mr Dillon stressed.

He pointed out a jury will have to decide on the self-defence claims. Granting compassionate bail, Mr Justice Maguire emphasised that he formed no view on guilt or innocence.

He ruled that Foster could be released for a period of hours, with an alcohol ban imposed during his time outside custody.

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