Kevin McDaid murder: Beaten to death... five years on family still wait to see his killers in court
The family of murdered Coleraine community worker Kevin McDaid have been "denied justice" after 12 suspects were cleared of his murder five years ago, an MLA has said.
Mr McDaid died after he was beaten during a loyalist mob attack in the Heights area of Coleraine in May 2009.
On Wednesday, 10 men were acquitted of attempted murder or manslaughter but convicted of lesser offences.
Yesterday the remaining two men accused of involvement in the killing were acquitted of all charges.
It appears that no-one will now face court directly charged with his death.
At Belfast Crown Court yesterday, a prosecutor told Mr Justice Weatherup that "having reviewed all the evidence in the case against the two defendants and having taken instructions from the Public Prosecution Service, I offer no evidence".
Following this declaration, lawyers Peter Irvine QC and Lawrence McCrudden QC asked the judge to acquit Coleraine men David James John Cochrane (52) from Windyhall Park and 39-year old Philip Edwin Kane from The Crescent, of the manslaughter of the 49-year-old father-of-four, who died five years ago this month.
The judge also formally entered verdicts of not guilty on four other charges including the attempted murder of Mr McDaid's friend Damien Fleming, assaulting Mr McDaid, causing grievous bodily harm to Mr Fleming, and also of causing an affray on May 29, 2009.
The cases of the remaining accused, none of whom are now directly charged with the unlawful killing or attempted murder, will be reviewed again early next month, when a possible date for sentence will be fixed.
Mr Justice Weatherup said there were a number of pre-sentence reports to be prepared, and he was "not sure when that will be achieved", adding he did not want to put "any additional pressure on the Probation Service" in coming up with the reports.
The prosecution also told the court that they had asked the victims – in particular Mr McDaid's widow Evelyn and Mr Fleming – if they wished to make statements for victim impact reports.
Yesterday's acquittals saw the end of the case which began 11 days ago.
Twelve men faced charges arising from the death of Mr McDaid, who collapsed and died after a gang of loyalists launched a violent attack near his home in the Heights area of Coleraine following a Rangers and Celtic match.
Ten pleaded guilty to lesser offences including causing grievous bodily harm to Mr Fleming, assaulting Mr McDaid and causing an affray.
All defendants who are due to be sentenced were released on continuing bail.
Last night SDLP East Londonderry MLA John Dallat said the McDaid family has been denied justice and called for a "thorough investigation".
"This decision on the McDaid case makes it imperative that there is the most thorough independent investigation into the whole sorry saga which led to the death of Kevin McDaid," he said.
"Serious questions have not been answered as to why the police did not stop the mob which drove from a pub in Newmarket Street and crossed the River Bann to attack Kevin and others in the Waterside.
"Why were the back-up police apparently stood down and why was there not a proper assessment made of the number of attackers which had assembled in Newmarket Street before launching their invasion of Somerset Drive and adjoining streets.
"The outcomes of this case only emphasise the need for answers as to why the attack took place in the first place and why the police were remarkable for their absence."
Mr Dallat said the McDaid family deserve answers.
"The McDaid family have not had justice and they certainly have not been given answers as to why they are now mourning the death of a husband and father in circumstances where this need not have happened," he said.
"I don't believe this outcome can be left hanging because there has been a failure to prevent the incident in the first place."