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Courtroom is cleared as family of dead man try to attack accused


Finbarr McCoy leaving court

Finbarr McCoy leaving court

Photopress Belfast

Finbarr McCoy leaving court

Anger erupted in court as relatives of a man punched to death outside a nightclub tried to attack his alleged killer.

Judge Mr Justice Colton told security staff to "clear the court" as relatives of James McDonagh hurled a tirade of abuse at the defendant, Finbarr McCoy.

Minutes earlier, McCoy (25), of Tamlaghduff Road, Bellaghy, in Co Londonderry, appeared in the dock of Belfast Crown Court to be arraigned on a single count of manslaughter.

The joiner replied "not guilty" when the charge of unlawfully killing James McDonagh on January 10, 2016, was put to him.

Mr McDonagh (28), from Castledawson, Co Londonderry, died from head injuries sustained after a single punch attack outside the Elk Bar in Toome, Co Antrim.

Counsel for McCoy, Eilis McDermott QC, told Mr Justice Colton that "some questions arise" from a preliminary report compiled by a doctor who had been retained by the defence to carry out a second post-mortem on Mr McDonagh.

She told Mr Justice Colton that she was awaiting the doctor's final report and asked for a six-week adjournment.

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The judge listed the trial, which is expected to last a week, for November 27 this year. He released McCoy on continuing bail.

As he walked into the public gallery to sit with his father, relatives of James McDonagh started shouting abuse at him. One male had to be physically restrained as he tried to lunge towards the defendant. Security guards rushed into the public gallery and McCoy and his father were ushered into the body of the court to sit beside his legal representatives.

A woman approached the door of the public gallery, put up several pictures of children, and screamed at McCoy: "Babies, young babies. No daddy."

Mr Justice Colton ordered the courtroom to be cleared and Mr McDonagh's relatives were escorted out of the public gallery still hurling abuse at McCoy.

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