Belfast Telegraph

Teen claims manslaughter charge was “one-punch in self-defence”

A teenager has appeared at Dungannon Magistrates Court charged with manslaughter, in what is contended was a one-punch self-defence incident.

Christopher McLean (18) of Main Street, Gortin is accused of unlawfully killing Darren McBrearty, who was attacked at around 8pm in the John Street area of Omagh on Sunday 4 August.

The victim had been on a life support system since the incident and passed away on Tuesday afternoon.

A detective constable told the court he could connect the accused to the charge. He explained police responded initially to a report of an assault outside an Omagh bar. Mr McBrearty was taken to a local hospital but transferred to the Royal Victoria in Belfast due to the severity of head injuries.

McLean was arrested, along with the two co-accused, and was interviewed 10 times over a number of days.

The detective objected to bail as the investigation is still in its early stages and there are a large number of witnesses still to be interviewed. Police believed there was a risk of witness interference if McLean was freed.

Defence solicitor Ferghal Logan, in opening his submission stated, “I would like to make it clear, nothing said by the defence is intended to diminish from the fact there has been a tragic death.”

He continued, “My client answered every question put to him by police and gave a full and frank first account at the outset. He has made the case this was a single punch self-defence incident, which my client has clearly and consistently maintained.”

In response to a defence question the detective constable accepted the case is based on whether this was indeed a single punch in self-defence or an act of aggression.

Mr Logan further asked, “Is it fair to say police are more in hope than expectation for someone to come forward with evidence?”

The detective accepted there are still witnesses to be identified and others which are known to police but have yet to be interviewed. It was also confirmed McLean has no criminal record.

District Judge John Meehan decided to grant bail but under strict terms. McLean is to reside at an address in Magheralin, refrain from alcohol, abide by a curfew from 10pm to 7am and have no contact with any witnesses or the two co-accused. He is also to be electronically tagged, sign three times per week with police and refrain from entering Omagh as defined by the 30mph speed limit.

Bail was fixed at £300 with a £500 surety.

McLean’s parents, along with other family members seated in the public gallery were visibly relieved when bail was granted.

The case is due back in court on 21 August.

Two other males, aged 23 and 24 arrested in connection with the incident have been released on bail, pending further enquiries.

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