Belfast Telegraph

Bouncer at staff party was pushed to his death down flight of stairs, court hears

BY MICHAEL DONNELLY

A Christmas night out for a group of doormen ended in tragedy when one of them was pushed to his death down a flight of stairs at an entertainment complex in a seaside resort, a trial has heard.

Antrim Crown Court was told that that Muredach Martin Doherty pushed 48-year-old former bouncer Colin McLeister to his death at the Playhouse Entertainment Complex in Portrush.

But the 36-year-old accused man claims that he "misfooted" and put his hands out to save himself, before they both ended up at the bottom of the stairs.

Doherty, from Hawthorn Crescent in Dunloy, Co Antrim, denies the manslaughter of the father-of-three on December 17, 2011 when he was attending his company's Christmas party.

Prosecution QC Philip Mateer told the jury that initially Doherty claimed to have little or no memory of having kicked out as Mr McLeister lay at the foot of the stairs, or of being abusive with police following his arrest.

Mr Mateer revealed that the Playhouse had been the second premises Doherty was asked to leave.

The lawyer claimed there had been a disturbance in the toilet that had been witnessed by Mr McLeister's company boss, who was holding the party for his staff.

The boss escorted Doherty "in a professional way" to the stairwell, telling him that his night was effectively over.

However, as the company boss left, Doherty was seen to turn around and head back in the direction of the toilets. Another of those at the party made it "clear to the defendant he would have to leave" and began to walk him out helped by Mr McLeister .

Again Doherty appeared to be compliant, and "everything was going to to go off peacefully... with no pushing or shoving".

However, at some point Mr McLeister ended up in front of Doherty as he was being taken down the stairs and, according to the prosecution, he "pushed on Mr McLeister's back and it resulted in him falling down the stairs".

Doherty landed on top of him and on getting up, began kicking out at him and had to be restrained by others.

Mr Mateer said during the first eight police interviews Doherty claimed that he "didn't do it". When asked if he could recall the events, he said: "I can't remember that much about it really.

"But definitely I never pushed anybody or anything like that," Doherty said.

However, when Doherty was told what Mr McLeister's fellow bouncer had said, he told detectives: "They were marching me down the stairs and I misfooted and I just put my hand out to save myself and I just went tumbling down the stairs and the big lad went with me ... pure accident."

The case, expect to last the week, continues today.

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