Belfast Telegraph

Mum of one-punch attack victim urges judge not to send son's killer to prison

By Ashleigh McDonald

The mother of a man killed in a one-punch incident outside a bar has called for leniency for her son's attacker, a court has heard.

James McDonagh died from injuries sustained by falling backwards and hitting his head off the ground after he was punched once in the face by Finbar McCoy Jnr.

The 28-year-old never regained consciousness.

Roseanne McDonagh described losing her son as "like having my heart ripped out".

But she said she "didn't care" if McCoy went to prison, as the family were more concerned about him accepting responsibility.

McCoy was due to be sentenced yesterday for the manslaughter of Mr McDonagh outside the Elk Bar in Toomebridge, Co Antrim, in January 2016.

Last year McCoy (26), from Tamlaghduff Road in Bellaghy, stood trial, with the jury being hung.

He was to go on trial for a second time, but earlier this month changed his plea and admitted unlawful killing.

Yesterday's hearing in Belfast was told McCoy's plea came as he didn't want to put either Mr McDonagh's family or his own through a second trial.

The judge heard about the "devastating" impact Mr McDonagh's death has had on his family.

Crown prosecutor Ciaran Murphy QC told the court that Mrs McDonagh said: "When we were in court, I felt sorry for Finbar's mother, father and his family.

"I don't care if Finbar sees the inside of a prison.

"We just wanted recognition for what he done - causing Jim's death."

Regarding punishment, Mrs McDonagh reiterated her sympathy for McCoy's parents and said it would be "an awful thing to see your child go to jail".

The incident occurred in the car park of the Elk in Toome in the early hours of January 10, 2016.

Mr McDonagh had been socialising in the bar with his nephew.

Also present at the bistro and bar was the McCoy family, who were celebrating Finbar McCoy Snr's retirement.

Mr Murphy QC said that on the evening of January 9 Mr McDonagh was seen becoming "increasingly intoxicated".

The prosecutor said that while Finbar Jnr had left to go home, his father was involved in an altercation with Mr McDonagh in the smoking area of the car park.

Mr McDonagh punched Finbar Snr, which resulted in bleeding to his forehead, while Mrs McCoy was seen "picking herself up off the ground".

Finbar Jnr then returned to the scene.

He believed his mother had been hit by Mr McDonagh, who was seen "trying to rile" him. A number of people tried to hold Finbar Jnr back but he broke free, approached Mr McDonagh and punched him once in the face.

Both McCoy and Mr McDonagh fell to the ground. While McCoy got back up, Mr McDonagh never regained consciousness and died on January 11.

When McCoy was arrested - initially for murder - he made no reply.

He later accused Mr McDonagh of taunting him and looking for a fight. McCoy always admitted punching the deceased once in the face.

Defence barrister Eilish MacDermott QC said that it was in the forefront of McCoy's mind that "a young man has lost his life".

Explaining that her client has recognised the suffering of the McDonagh family, Ms MacDermott said both families will be dealing with the consequences of that night for the rest of their lives.

The barrister said McCoy was a hard-working man from a happy and stable background and who, up until January 2016, was a model citizen who led a structured life.

McCoy will now be sentenced next Friday.

Belfast Telegraph

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