Belfast Telegraph

Man jailed after killing brother in drunken argument

BY MICHAEL DONNELLY

A man who unwittingly left his brother to die after a drunken row during which the victim had threatened to rape his pregnant girlfriend, has been jailed for two and a half-years.

Mr Justice Weir told Raymond Johnston it was accepted he had not intended to kill his older brother David (33), in July 2012.

The Omagh Crown Court judge, sitting in Belfast, said it was also believed his claims of amnesia about stabbing him were genuine.

Johnston, from Kinawley Road, in the Florencecourt area of Fermanagh, was originally accused of murdering his brother early on July 13, 2012, but the prosecution finally accepted his guilty plea to his manslaughter.

Mr Justice Weir said that drink lay behind the tragedy. Both brothers, he said, had spent the day, separately, drinking heavily, before joining up later and continuing to drink and then deciding to party on at Johnston's home.

Both had been drinking heavily, and once in the house a row erupted and a fight ensued.

An earlier court heard Johnston's brother had threatened to rape his pregnant girlfriend, who was asleep upstairs with their son, and had also told him that he would "gut him like a fish".

Mr Weir said that armed with a knife, Johnston pursued his brother outside and there was a further struggle. But what happened was not witnessed, and that a short time later, half-naked and blood-stained, Johnston returned to wash up.

The judge said Johnston referred to the fight "as a wee row" and it was clear from what he said, he expected his brother to come back into the house.

But said Mr Justice Weir: "He did not come back in. He collapsed outside in the laneway."

As he bled to death, Mr Johnston made a final mobile call to his mother and sister, telling them: "I'm dying here, I'm losing blood." Mr Justice Weir said on getting the call his mother drove to her son's home, but despite her desperate attempts could not locate his body.

Mr Johnston was found to have six knife wounds, and the judge said the evidence suggested they were caused while those fighting were under the influence of alcohol, but did not suggest a deliberate attack to cause serious injury.

While the wounds were potentially survivable, Mr Justice Weir said they proved to be fatal.

Addressing Johnston, Mr Justice Weir said he was called a talented hard working metal worker when sober but that he was "defined in both working and personal environments by your addiction to alcohol and illicit drugs".

Those addictions cost him not only work, but also relationships and, "have seriously damaged your life and has resulted in the loss of the life of your bother".

Johnston, he said, had stopped drinking and taking drugs, and had sought the help of the church since the events of that night.

Johnston was sentenced to five years, two and a half years in custody without remission, to be followed by two and a half years on licenced supervised parole.

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