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Man (24) cleared over one-punch killing of teen guilty of affray

By Ashleigh McDonald

Published 17/09/2016

Remorse: Mark Donnelly
Remorse: Mark Donnelly

Former motocross ace Mark Donnelly - recently acquitted of the one-punch killing of Monaghan teenager Jason McGovern - walked free from court yesterday when a judge gave him a suspended sentence for his involvement in an affray.

The charge related to Donnelly's involvement in a melee that took place just minutes before Mr McGovern suffered the punch that killed him.

What can also be reported for the first time is that Donnelly's 25-year-old partner, Aisling McAleer, along with four Tyrone men, have already been sentenced and freed for their parts arising out of the tragic events of that 2012 New Year's Eve.

Mr McGovern (19) was found dead hours after being floored by a single punch in the car park of the Weigh Inn in Omagh.

A post-mortem revealed he had a fractured skull and died from bleeding on the brain.

Yesterday Donnelly - convicted at his first full trial of having fought and made an affray - was given a four-month prison sentence, suspended for a year, for his involvement in the first incident.

It was during this fracas outside the Terrace Bar in Omagh that Jason's friend Liam Williams had his jaw fractured.

Lady Justice Keegan said that despite his initial reluctance to talk to the Probation Service about what happened on that fateful evening, the 24-year-old Greencastle man subsequently revealed that prior to the melee he had planned to go to a fast food outlet with his partner before getting a taxi home. He said he then saw an incident in the street, went over to the crowd and spoke to a friend. Donnelly also told Probation officials that as the melee was taking place he raised his left arm, but didn't physically strike anyone.

He also said he could offer no explanation for his actions, and wouldn't have acted the way he did had he not been drinking.

Further, Donnelly said he then stood back from the "massive row" on the street before leaving the scene to try and find his cousin. He then returned to join his partner and got a taxi home, unaware of the gravity of events.

During yesterday's sentencing, Lady Justice Keegan said "this was an unsavoury incident undoubtedly fuelled by alcohol", adding such anti-social behaviour was "clearly unacceptable".

Regarding the offence of affray for which Donnelly was found guilty, Lady Justice Keegan branded the incident as "spontaneous", adding there was no physical evidence there was any contact made by Donnelly.

The judge accepted Donnelly had shown remorse.

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