Belfast Telegraph

Tyrone man who killed granddad cleared of violent robbery

BY Michael Donnelly

A Tyrone man who, as a teenager killed his grandfather, has been cleared of beating a teenager during a violent shop robbery over five years ago.

This was the second time Eamon Charles Coyle from Drumlegagh Road South, between Drumquin and Omagh, had been on trial for the February 2012 robbery in Omagh's Kevlin Road.

Yesterday, at Belfast Crown Court, a jury of six men and six women were directed by Judge David McFarland to acquit the 24-year-old of robbery, possessing an offensive weapon and assault occasioning actual bodily harm, after the prosecution offered no evidence.

Coyle was sentenced in 2010 for the manslaughter of his 78-year-old grandfather Francis O'Neill after breaking into his home.

Coyle, who was aged 16 at the time, stabbed the pensioner in the neck and strangled him for £80 rent money.

Initially given just a year's detention for the manslaughter, it was later increased to two.

Coyle was also jailed for the shop robbery in April 2014 for eight years by Dungannon Crown Court.

However, the following year the Court of Appeal ordered a retrial after 'concessions' were made by the prosecution.

When it came before the court in Belfast earlier this week, the prosecution applied to adjourn it because of "witness difficulties".

The Recorder refused saying the matter had been hanging over Coyle's head for too long and that "the defendant is here and is entitled to his trial".

At the time of the robbery, Coyle had been out on licence for just 11 weeks, after serving part of his two-year term for the unlawful killing of his grandfather, Mr O'Neill.

Coyle was later returned to Hydebank Young Offenders' Centre to serve out the remainder of that sentence after allegedly being identified from CCTV footage as being one of the hooded robbers.

During his three-day trial it was claimed Coyle was armed with a baton, and was one of two men who demanded cash from a young teenage shop assistant who was punched in the face and chest.

It was further claimed that Coyle tried to grab cash from the till, as he allegedly beat the teenage assistant with the baton.

However, in the struggle, the cash was scattered and the robbers made off with just £41.

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