Belfast Telegraph

Man who hit friend with bottle a convicted killer, court told

By George Jackson

A man who admitted punching and hitting his closest friend with a bottle has a conviction for manslaughter, a court has heard.

Sean Devenney, from Lisdale Mews in the Waterside area of Londonderry, was jailed for four years in 2011 when he was convicted of a wedding day killing.

His victim died after he was assaulted in the city following a wedding reception in the Redcastle Hotel in Co Donegal in 2007.

Defence barrister Mark Reel told Crown Court judge Elizabeth McCaffrey that it followed an argument at the wedding reception involving the defendant's stepfather and mother and members of the dead man's family.

"The defendant's stepfather assaulted the deceased, and the deceased's son intervened," he said. "The defendant then became involved in a fight with the deceased's son. The defendant's stepfather struck the mortal blow to the deceased.

"There was no contact between the deceased and the defendant. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the basis that he was in the company of parents who were aware there was going to be a fight between his stepfather and the deceased.

"His involvement was scuffling with the deceased's son.

"He was aged 21 at the time and it would have been difficult for him to talk his parents down from the incident they involved themselves in after the wedding day argument."

The defendant pleaded guilty to attacking his best friend as they and their partners drank in the Happy Landing Bar in Eglinton on December 10, 2016.

The defendant became involved in an argument with his partner and the injured party tried to intervene"

A barrister for the PPS told Judge McCaffrey that the victim became dazed and confused after the assault, during which he suffered cuts and bruises to his face and head.

When he was arrested Devenney described his victim as "my best mucker" and said he regretted his actions and wished he could apologise to his friend of 16 years. Devenney told police he could not remember the incident as he had had too much to drink.

Mr Reel said when Devenney was released from jail after serving time for manslaughter, he set up and personally funded the Maydown Amateur Boxing Club.

He said Devenney was an inspirational and talented boxing trainer who had coached some of his young club members, many of whom had behavioural issues, to 20 provincial titles, five national titles and one to a European bronze medal.

Mr Reel said the many character references for Devenney in court included ones from a police officer, a teacher, a politician, a community worker and a boxing coach who had represented Ireland in the 2008 Olympics.

He said there was also a reference from the president of the Ulster Boxing Council, who said the work Devenney had carried out was inspirational.

Mr Reel said there were also many moving character references from parents of children whom Devenney had coached. One of the parents, whose son has learning difficulties, wrote: "I will forever be in his debt."

A doctor in psychology also described Devenney as a person who had made a positive contribution to disadvantaged young people on a cross-community basis.

Judge McCaffrey said she would sentence Devenney today and she released him on continuing bail.

Belfast Telegraph

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