Belfast Telegraph

West Belfast brothers found guilty of uncle's manslaughter

By Paul Higgins 

Two brothers from west Belfast were today acquitted of murdering their uncle, but convicted of his manslaughter.

A jury at Belfast Crown Court deliberated for one-and-three-quarter hours before unanimously convicting Daniel Gaskin (22) and his brother Gerard (31) of the manslaughter of their uncle, Seamus Holland.

Although the jury found both guilty on the basis of provocation, the six men and six women also found Gerard Gaskin guilty of manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility.

Both defendants had spent up to three years on remand awaiting trial and were released on bail pending sentence.

The defendants, both from Gortnamona Way in west Belfast, had always admitted attacking their 55-year-old uncle in November 2010, but claimed they did not intend to kill him, or cause him serious injury.

Although Mr Holland died in hospital after suffering a heart attack, the prosecution argued that the "savage" beating he received, in which he suffered 19 broken ribs and fractures to his nose, arm and leg, led to his death.

Assistant State Pathologist Dr James Lynas said that, while his view was that the assault was the "primary cause of death", Mr Holland's severe heart condition was a "contributory factor".

The jury was also told that Gerard Gaskin suffered a "personality disorder and abnormality of mind that substantially impaired his mental responsibility".

The defendants remained impassive in the dock as the jury foreman announced the verdicts, while relatives of Mr Holland wept in the public gallery.

Trial judge Mr Justice Maguire adjourned sentencing until September for pre-sentence reports.

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