| 11.7°C Belfast

Prosecutors to downgrade Limavady man's murder rap after evidence review

Close

Head injury: Darren McGurk was seriously hurt in an incident at a house in Limavady

Head injury: Darren McGurk was seriously hurt in an incident at a house in Limavady

Head injury: Darren McGurk was seriously hurt in an incident at a house in Limavady

A man previously accused of killing his fiancee's half-brother will no longer face trial for murder, a court has been told.

The details emerged during a bail application by Karl Watson, who was awaiting trial over the death of Darren McGurk in Limavady on March 21 last year.

It follows a review of pathology evidence, the court heard.

Watson (34), formerly from Glenview Drive in the town, is also accused of perverting the course of justice.

The charge alleges that two days after the incident, during a phone call from police custody, he "relayed a message to a witness that the said witness cease in assisting police with their investigation into the killing of Darren McGurk".

The PSNI received a report on March 21 last year that Mr McGurk (23) had sustained a serious head injury following an assault at a house in the Glenbeg area of Limavady on the previous evening.

A previous court was told that the assault took place following an incident involving Mr McGurk and his half-sister, the fiancee of Watson.

Daily Headlines & Evening Telegraph Newsletter

Receive today's headlines directly to your inbox every morning and evening, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

Close

Head injury: Darren McGurk was seriously hurt in an incident at a house in Limavady

Head injury: Darren McGurk was seriously hurt in an incident at a house in Limavady

Head injury: Darren McGurk was seriously hurt in an incident at a house in Limavady

The victim was taken to hospital, where he passed away three days later.

During yesterday's bail application at Belfast Crown Court, Mr Justice O'Hara said that as a result of a review of pathology evidence in the case, "it is likely there will be a reconsideration of the (murder) charge that the defendant faces".

Crown counsel John Orr QC agreed and confirmed to the hearing: "There will be a lesser charge in light of the pathology report."

The barrister told Mr Justice O'Hara that after receiving a defence report from Professor Jack Crane, the case was reviewed by experts in pathology and neurology in consultation with the prosecution.

"In light of Professor Crane's report, it seems to us that the (murder) charge, as it stands, cannot stand," he said.

"We were anxious that the family of the deceased should be made aware of that.

"I am grateful to the defence that they said nothing about this because of the sensitivities there are in this case before we had the opportunity to speak to them. They have now been told."

Mr Orr said he had yet to receive instructions as to what the alternative charge would be, but he added it was likely to be an "attempted Section 18 charge (attempted wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm)".

The court heard that Watson had previously been freed on bail but was now back in custody because he had breached his release conditions by failing to reside at his bail address.

Defence counsel Kieran Mallon QC told the hearing that his client would abide by any conditions ordered by the court, including the wearing of an electronic tag.

"My only observation in regard to reporting to police three times a week is that there should be some easing of that particular condition," he added.

Mr Justice O'Hara said that in light of the development in the case, he would grant the defendant bail of £500.

He must wear an electronic tag, must reside at a relative's address outside Limavady and must not contact any witnesses in the case.

The senior judge also banned Watson from consuming alcohol or taking illicit drugs.

He must further abide by a 9pm to 8am curfew, but he no longer has to report to police to sign his bail.

The judge set January 11 as a trial date.


Top Videos



Privacy