Belfast Telegraph

I'd nothing to do with it, says man accused of punch that killed teen weeps in the dock

By Michael Donnelly

A man accused of killing a teenager broke down and wept as he denied having anything to do with the death.

Choking back tears, Mark Donnelly (22) refuted any suggestion that it was he who threw the killer punch that floored 19-year-old Co Monaghan teenager Jason McGovern in an Omagh car park in the early hours of New Year's Eve 2012.

"Its just something that simply is not true," he told his defence lawyer Sean Doran, and then, wiping tears from his eyes as he broke down, repeated: "Its not true."

Under cross-examination from prosecuting QC Ciaran Murphy, Donnelly, from Greencastle, maintained that he had nothing to do with the injuries which led to the death of the Tydavnet teenager.

"I suggest to you, you went down there and did the damage to Mr McGovern, and got offside quickly," said Mr Murphy. "No," replied Donnelly.

His Dungannon Crown Court trial has already heard that although the teenager managed to make his way to the home of a friend in Mullan just over the border in Monaghan, he was later found dead. A post-mortem revealed he died from bleeding to the brain caused by a fractured skull.

Donnelly told the court that on the evening he had gone out with his girlfriend and drank about three or four bottles of beer and downed six or seven shots.

Afterwards they had gone for a carryout of food with his cousin, and then spotted a disturbance on the other side of the road and went to see what was going on.

Donnelly claimed that "a brawl kicked off" as he stood chatting to a man who "threw a punch" and that he "instinctively" raised his hand.

"I raised my arm, it wasn't a punch... it was instinctive... that I was going to protect myself if anything was coming my way... it wasn't a punch," Donnelly explained, at one point lifting his left arm straight out in front of him as he sat in the witness box.

Donnelly said he returned to his girlfriend to wait for their taxi as the crowd moved down to the "way-in car park" in nearby Kelvin Road. At one point he went looking for his cousin and ran to the car park searching for her, however, never saw her, so ran back up to his girlfriend, meeting her halfway down the road.

While he said he saw "a bit of a verbal exchange going on" and that "there was quite a few people down there", Donnelly denied seeing anything else.

However, when asked about prosecution witness Shannon Skelton, who claimed to have seen him deliver the killer punch, Donnelly denied even knowing her by name.

Asked what he thought of her evidence, he replied: "Its just something that simply is not true... its not true."

Then when asked by his lawyer Mr Doran: "Did you strike anyone in the 'way-in car park'", Donnelly replied: "No."

Donnelly then claimed the evidence of a detective was "untrue" when she said he had asked his girlfriend if she had washed the shirt he was wearing that evening.

"In this case the prosecution say you played a part in the fight that took place outside the Terrace Bar," said Mr Doran.

"That's not true," said Donnelly in answer to the lawyer, who then said: "And that you struck the blow that resulted in the death of Mr McGovern".

"That not true," repeated Donnelly in a broken, tearful voice.

At hearing.

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