Belfast Telegraph

Playground punch: Student pleads guilty to manslaughter of Oisín McGrath

By Michael Donnelly

A 20-year-old student has admitted his responsibility for the untimely and tragic death of Belcoo schoolboy Oisín McGrath who died from a playground punch nearly three years ago.

At a hearing in Dungannon, listed only as a mention, Francis McDermott, of Camphill Park, Newtownbutler, pleaded guilty to the manslaughter, the unlawful killing of 13-year-old Oisin.

He died in hospital on February 9, 2015, from head injuries, four days after the row over a football in the grounds of St. Michael's College, Enniskillen, where he and McDermott, a 17-year-old sixth-former at the time, were both pupils.

Members of the McGrath family, including the schoolboy's parents, Nigel and Sharon, were in the Crown Court on Monday to watch McDermott as he acknowledged his guilt.

Defence QC Martin Rodgers had told Judge Stephen Fowler QC that he had "an application for your honour to direct that the defendant be rearraigned on the one count on the bill of indictiment".

The clerk, having put the charge of manslaughter to McDermott, the anxious looking engineering university student, dressed in a dark suit, simply replied: "Guilty".

Mr Rodgers then successfully applied for McDermott to be released on his continuing bail of £500 while pre-sentence  and other reports on him are compiled.

Freeing him Judge Fowler warned the university student that being granted bail was no indication of "how I will deal with this case ultimately".

Prosecuting QC Ciaran Murphy said that it was his intention to obtain victim impact statements from the family of the teenage schoolboy and how his death has affected them.

Young Oisin's family then left court not wishing to say anything or to comment on proceedings.  In the days following the teenager's death it was reported that his family had allowed his organs to be used to save the lives of five other people.

It also emerged that his parents later set up a trust in their son's name and memory, aimed at raising awareness in organ donation and brain injury research.

McDermott will be sentenced late next month.

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