Belfast Telegraph

PPS to review decision to drop case against trio accused of attack on tragic drowning victim

By Gillian Halliday

The Public Prosecution Service has confirmed it is carrying out a review into its decision to drop a case against three people charged with carrying out an assault on a Co Antrim man who died months later in an unrelated incident.

Larne woman Barbara Murray was told by the PPS last Friday that it could not continue with the prosecution due to "insufficient evidence" following the recent death of her son Connor (23).

The devastated mother, who was notified of the decision via a letter, heavily criticised the decision, saying that it had compounded her grief after she made a promise to her dying son that he would receive justice.

Mr Murray passed away in hospital last month, six days after being pulled from a river he accidentally fell in on May 4.

Last autumn Mr Murray sustained multiple injuries in an attack that led to three individuals being charged.

Jordan Brown (21), from Hillview Road in Carrickfergus, was charged with causing actual bodily harm and having a knife with intent in relation to the attack on September 13, 2017.

Co-accused Joel Hawthorn, also 21, from Bardic Drive in Larne, was charged with inflicting grievous bodily harm.

Charges against a third individual were also to be dropped.

However, the PPS is now to reassess its direction not to proceed with the prosecution of all three defendants.

It is expected the PPS will request an adjournment when the case regarding Brown and Hawthorn is heard today.

The development has been welcomed by Ms Murray, who revealed that she had received widespread support after the story appeared in the Belfast Telegraph at the weekend.

"This really has just begun. There's still going to be a fight on my hands," she said.

"I've established a 'Justice for Connor' page on Facebook which has received a huge reaction. This is one step in the right direction.

"I will continue in my pursuit of justice for Connor.

"The last 30 seconds of his life I made a promise to him that I would get him justice.

"I'm glad that we've got step one passed, which is getting the review, and depending on its outcome, it will shape the next year of my life."

The PPS said: "The Public Prosecution Service can confirm a review is to be conducted into the decision to discontinue proceedings against three defendants charged in relation to an attack on Connor Murray, who has since died in unconnected circumstances.

"This review was initiated after a request from the victim's next of kin, as offered under our code for prosecutors.

"It will be carried out by a PPS assistant director with the benefit of advice from independent counsel.

"We will update Mr Murray's family on the outcome of the review.

"As this matter is still before the courts, it would not be appropriate to comment any further."

Belfast Telegraph

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