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Antrim man Joseph Dorrian to stand trial next year over Darren O'Neill one-punch killing


Darren O’Neill died in an incident at Tyrella Beach

Darren O’Neill died in an incident at Tyrella Beach

Darren O’Neill died in an incident at Tyrella Beach

A 23-year-old man was yesterday told he will stand trial in the New Year on a charge of unlawfully killing west Belfast man Darren O'Neill.

Mr O'Neill died in hospital on June 29 last year, two days after what police described as a "one-punch" incident on Tyrella Beach near Newcastle.

Joseph Dorrian appeared at a remote hearing of Downpatrick Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, where he was charged with a single count of manslaughter.

Also present via a videolink were members of Mr O'Neill's family - some of whom wore t-shirts bearing images of the 22-year-old.

From Lakeview in Crumlin, Dorrian - who appeared via a videolink with his solicitor's office - confirmed he could see and hear the court.

He was then charged with manslaughter, and when asked how he pleaded to the unlawful killing of Darren O'Neill on June 29, 2019, Dorrian replied "not guilty".

Defence barrister Martin Morgan told Judge Geoffrey Miller QC that he is scheduled to consult with Dorrian via Zoom this Thursday.

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The barrister also told Judge Miller that he believed the trial will last around two weeks.

Judge Miller said that while he wanted to give the case priority - especially for the O'Neill family - there is at present limited courtroom space.

Saying that it was unlikely that the trial will be held before Christmas, Judge Miller said he would review the case in November and expressed the hope that a trial date could be fixed then.

Addressing Dorrian, Judge Miller said that as he had pleaded not guilty to manslaughter, he will now face a trial.

He told the accused: "It is unlikely that will be any time before the start of 2021. All of that will be kept under review in light of the on-going restrictions that we are all enduring at this time."

Dorrian was released on continuing bail and the case was re-listed for review on November 6.

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