Belfast Telegraph

Grieving mum's anger as charges against assault accused dropped

By Gillian Halliday

A Co Antrim woman has hit out at the Public Prosecution Service for dropping a case against three men charged with carrying out an attack on her son months before his death in an unrelated incident.

Barbara Murray from Larne said yesterday that Connor (23) had been denied justice following the decision not to continue with the prosecution due to "insufficient evidence" in light of his death.

Mr Murray, a former pupil of Larne Grammar, died six days on from being rescued from the town's Inver River on May 4 after accidentally falling into the fast-flowing water.

His 51-year-old mother said that in the months leading up to his death Connor had endured pain every day due to the multiple injuries he sustained in the assault last autumn.

Jordan Brown (21) from Hillview Road in Carrickfergus was charged with causing actual bodily harm and having a knife with intent in relation to the attack on September 13, 2017.

Co-accused Joel Hawthorn, also 21, from Bardic Drive in Larne, was charged with inflicting grievous bodily harm.

However, following the PPS direction, the charges against the pair are to be officially withdrawn in court next Thursday.

The PPS notified Ms Murray yesterday of the decision in a letter.

It acknowledged that the decision would be "disappointing", but stressed it was one that had been made following "careful examination".

Th letter goes on to explain in detail why the case no longer met the "test for prosecution" following Connor's death, saying that it had been "necessary" to review the case following his passing, adding that the "evidence now available is insufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction". A reference to a third individual, who was also charged in connection to the case but who would also now not face prosecution, was confirmed in the letter.

Ms Murray said the decision had compounded her grief, as she had spoken of the case to her son in his last moments as he lay in hospital.

"I promised Connor on his deathbed as he took his last breaths that I would get him justice," she explained.

"How dare they make my son's death an excuse.

"This has made Connor's death so much more worse."

She said that she would be seeking to appeal the PPS decision and would be meeting officials from the service face to face.

"In a murder trial the victim's not alive to be in court," she added.

"So why is it different in my son's case?

"If we're relying on the courts to give us proper justice, the PPS has to play its part and bring them to the courts in the first place."

Criticising the decision as "beyond common sense", she insisted that just because Connor was no longer alive, it didn't make him any less of a victim.

"He's my son, my baby and he deserves more," she added.

"And it's an insult to his memory.

"As long as I'm on this Earth, I'll not let anyone tarnish his memory.

"My son has been let down, my family has been let down, and the public has been let down.

"There's no words to describe the disbelief that I feel and how disgusted I feel on behalf of my son."

The PPS said it had formally expressed its condolences to Connor's family.

It added: "We can confirm that a review of the available evidence against three defendants has been completed in light of his death.

"We will continue to keep Mr Murray's next of kin updated on all developments.

"As this matter is still before the courts at this stage, it would not be appropriate to comment any further."

Belfast Telegraph

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