Belfast Telegraph

Murder charge over Co Down killing now one of manslaughter

Victim: Padraig Fox
Victim: Padraig Fox

By Paul Higgins

A murder charge against a Co Down man was yesterday downgraded to manslaughter.

Donach Rice (21) appeared at Downpatrick Magistrates Court via video-link from prison.

A prosecuting lawyer told the court the PPS had taken the decision to charge him with the manslaughter of Padraig Fox rather than murder.

Rice, of Kilkeel Road in Annalong, is alleged to have killed Mr Fox on December 8 last year.

Previous courts have heard Rice "made admissions" during police interviews, and his solicitor yesterday revealed he has also "expressed remorse" for the death.

Rice still faces five other charges, including two counts of perverting justice by giving police a statement which he knew to be false and by submitting himself to a knife wound "to give the false impression that the wound had been inflicted by self-defence".

He was also accused of burglary of the Slieve Donard Hotel, where he allegedly stole three bottles of alcohol, attempted robbery of cash from Daniel Curran, and fraud by false representation in that he allegedly cashed a winning betting slip at Toal's bookmakers.

The charges arise after the body of Mr Fox (29) was found inside a flat on Burrendale Park Road in Newcastle.

It is understood Mr Fox had only moved into the block of flats a few months before his death.

In court yesterday, Rice's solicitor also revealed the offence was a "one-punch matter" and asked for Rice to be freed on bail given the change in the headline charge.

District Judge Connolly refused the application and remanded Rice back into custody to appear again on August 15.

At that stage he will stand in the dock alongside his two co-accused, his cousin Nathan Rice and Paul Patrick Magennis, for the purpose of a preliminary enquiry, the legal process necessary to refer a case upwards to the more senior Crown Court.

Nathan Rice (20), from Bernagh Green in Newcastle, is accused of burglary of the Slieve Donard Hotel, where he allegedly stole three bottles of alcohol, and perverting the course of justice in that he allegedly made a statement to police knowing it was false, with both offences allegedly committed on December 8.

Magennis (27), from Burrendale Park in Newcastle, close to where Mr Fox was killed, is accused of the theft of a bicycle on December 6, two counts of perverting the course of justice and the attempted robbery of cash from Mr Curran on December 8.

Magennis is alleged to have perverted the course of justice by also allowing himself to be inflicted with a knife wound "following the murder of Padraig Fox to give the false impression" of self-defence but also that he "placed a knife under the hand of Padraig Fox following his murder".

All three will reappear on August 15.

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