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Catholic dad Kevin McDaid crossed sectarian divide and was beaten with bats

By Lesley Houston

Published 12/11/2015

Kevin McDaid’s widow Evelyn after the attack
Kevin McDaid’s widow Evelyn after the attack
Murder victim Kevin McDaid did work in the community
Graffiti in The Heights area of Coleraine where Kevin McDaid lived
Ombudsman Michael Maguire

Catholic father-of-four Kevin McDaid (49) suffered a horrific death after he was attacked by a loyalist mob outside his Coleraine home in May 2009.

The vicious attack came a short time after an Old Firm cup clash between bitter rivals Rangers and Celtic, when a gang of up to 40 loyalists invaded the Heights area of the town, a mixed estate where Mr McDaid lived with his Protestant wife Evelyn and children.

Witnesses said the mob had been armed with pick axe handles and baseball bats and had jumped on Mr McDaid's head.

Mr McDaid, a plasterer by trade who devoted his spare time to voluntary community work, had just returned from a fishing trip he'd organised for young men from both traditions in his area.

Before his death, he had been organising a cross-community trip to take young people out of the area during the Twelfth celebrations.

Mrs McDaid was also beaten, along with a neighbour, who was pregnant at the time.

Another neighbour, Damien Fleming, was badly beaten and left in a coma, requiring lifelong care.

Mrs McDaid, who called for no retaliation, said she believed UDA men were behind the attack.

Police initially disputed the claim but later admitted they were investigating a sectarian motive and conceded in the High Court they suspected members of the loyalist group had been involved in the killing.

Mr McDaid's grown son Ryan had claimed police failed to act to intervene.

Later, it emerged that the policing of sectarian violence in Coleraine was already under investigation by the Ombudsman at the time of Mr McDaid's vicious attack.

It followed the attack on a neighbour of Mr McDaid who alleged police had failed to intervene when known loyalists attacked him in the estate.

Nine men were eventually jailed in connection with the killing but none were ever charged with Mr McDaid's murder.

The jail sentences ranged from as little as six months.

The longest prison terms, set at eight-and-a-half years, were imposed on six men for the most serious charges of grievous bodily harm.

Initial charges of murder and the attempted murder of Mr Fleming were thrown out.

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