Belfast Telegraph

Police officer cleared over text to sister of single punch killer

By George Jackson

A PSNI officer has been found not guilty of intending to pervert the course of justice in a case linked to a single punch killing.

Detective Sergeant Cathy Thompson was acquitted last month following a three-day trial at Londonderry Crown Court, but reporting restrictions were only lifted yesterday.

Ms Thompson (34), whose address was given as care of Coleraine PSNI station, was found not guilty by a jury of intending to pervert the course of justice by sending a text message to Ciara McCoy, with whom she was in a relationship, on January 10, 2016.

The text message was sent to Ciara McCoy by the officer on the day Ms McCoy's brother Finbar McCoy killed James McDonagh outside the Elk Bar in Toomebridge.

His single punch caused the victim to fall backwards and strike his head on the pavement.

Mr McDonagh suffered a fractured skull in addition to bleeding and swelling of the brain and he died from his injuries in hospital.

Ms Thompson's message said: "Yeah, don't have anything in the house u shouldn't have as they will land to arrest him. They will then search the whole house for clothing."

The judge imposed reporting restrictions on Det Sgt Thompson's trial until the McCoy trial had ended.

At the Crown Court in Belfast on Tuesday McCoy asked to be rearraigned on the manslaughter charge and pleaded guilty.

He was then remanded in custody until he is sentenced next month.

Following McCoy's guilty plea, the judge yesterday lifted the reporting restrictions which he had imposed on the Thompson trial.

The officer, who is currently under suspension, was found not guilty by the jury following a three day trial at the Bishop Street Crown Court.

When the jury forewoman announced the not guilty verdict, Det Sgt Thompson broke down and wept in the dock.

Belfast Telegraph

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