Belfast Telegraph

Court sets trial date for student on death charge

By Michael Donnelly

The date for the trial of student Francis McDermott, for the unlawful killing of former fellow Belcoo schoolboy Oisin McGrath, has been set for later this year.

The date was fixed by Dungannon Crown Court yesterday, but not before the defence revealed that its expected report is still awaiting completion.

However, Martin Rodgers QC - acting for the defence - reported that the defence expert should be in a position to email some draft sections of his findings within the next few weeks.

Judge Stephen Fowler QC warned that he had "wanted the report by the end of term", which was officially yesterday.

He said that while he had been "patient", he "will be exerting some control" as it sounded as if the report simply required some "finessing".

Mr Rodgers explained while he was hopeful that the defence expert Professor Mark Wilson, from Imperial College, London - who had described the case as "unusual and complex" - would be in a position to finalise his report, he could not commit as he had "no control over the professor".

The defence lawyer also acknowledged the court's patience on the matter, and while he "understands the family's concerns" on delay, he added that Prof Wilson's report would be served well in advance of the November trial date.

Barrister Simon Reid - acting for the prosecution - voiced the concerns of Oisin McGrath's family.

He told the court yesterday that the "delay is causing the family extreme distress and concern, particularly the open-endedness of the provision of the report."

As in previous review hearings, McDermott was excused from having to attend.

McDermott denies the manslaughter of 13-year-old Oisin, who died on February 9, 2015, fours days following an incident in the playground at St Michael's College, Enniskillen.

The now university student, from Camphill Park, Newtownbutler - who was 17 at the time of Oisin's death - is currently on his own bail of £500.

Belfast Telegraph


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