Family feud ended in a killing after man mowed down his cousin Declan Quinn
A court has heard how a family feud ended with one cousin causing the unlawful death of another, who died in hospital two days after being hit by a car in 2011.
Dungannon Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, heard that 23-year-old Anthony Joseph Quinn from Maplebrook Hill, Coalisland, was originally charged with murdering and causing the death by dangerous driving of his second cousin Declan Quinn, but the charges were withdrawn when he pleaded guilty to his manslaughter.
Quinn, a disqualified driver, was driving a Vauxhall Corsa on the Gortgonis Road in the Co Tyrone town on July 16, 2011 when he hit his cousin, who was flung over the bonnet of the car into the air. He later claimed he thought the 37-year-old – who suffered brain injuries, a severed spinal cord, broken neck and two broken legs – had been armed with a handgun at the time.
Reading from a set of agreed facts, prosecuting QC Philip Mateer said Quinn had gone to his father's home after receiving a call that the house was under attack by three men.
The intruders, two of Quinn's cousins and another man, had gone to his father's to complain about a shed which was set on fire.
As Quinn arrived the men were leaving, and as he reversed away he was chased in a Mercedes car by one cousin, while his brother Declan Quinn and the other man chased after him on foot.
Mr Mateer said Quinn managed to give the Mercedes the slip by doing a handbrake turn and was returning in the direction of his father's when he came upon the other two men on a traffic island on the main road.
The court heard that Quinn initially told police he had believed all three men had been armed, one with a handgun, one with a sledgehammer and the other with a hammer. A witness also claimed the men were armed, but that the third man was carrying a spade. However, police only recovered a claw hammer from the scene.
Mr Mateer later agreed with Mr Justice Weir that it would be "difficult for me to exclude the possibility that in the mind of the accused, he thought either one of the men had a gun" when he struck his cousin while travelling at between 29 and 39mph in a 30mph zone, causing him irreversible, irretrievable damage.
Defence QC Eilis McDermott urged the Crown Court judge to veer towards a sentence at the lower end of the scale of the one-to-four years range.
She said that there were a number of reasons, including the fact that her client had played no part in instigating events that fateful morning.
The lawyer said Quinn arrived there to assist his father and found three armed men. Ms McDermott said that Quinn believed he was about to be shot during events "he found fast moving and terrifying".
Mr Weir said he would pass sentence on Friday in the case, in which he said "everyone behaved disgracefully".