Belfast Telegraph

PSNI woman charged with trying to pervert justice over killing case

By George Jackson

A police officer has been charged with two offences linked to the death of a man in a single punch attack outside a Co Londonderry bar last year.

Cathy Thompson, whose address was given as the PSNI Station at Lodge Road in Coleraine, yesterday launched a legal bid to stop the case against her going to trial before a jury.

She faces two charges of sending text messages with intent to pervert the course of justice.

The victim, James McDonagh (28) from Castledawson, died in hospital from brain injuries he sustained in the attack in the car park of the Elk Bar, Toomebridge, on January 10, 2016.

Finbar McCoy jnr (25), from Loughbeg Road in Toomebridge, has been charged with the manslaughter of Mr McDonagh and is due to be arraigned at the Crown Court in Belfast next Friday.

The Crown Court in Derry was told yesterday that Thompson (34) is charged with sending two text messages to McCoy's sister - Ciara McCoy - whom Thompson was then in a relationship with.

One text stated: "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 second text message stated: "Tell him to behave and say nothing."

The defendant's barrister Gavin Duffy QC moved a 'no bill' application before Judge Philip Babington, arguing that the defendant had done nothing illegal in sending the two text messages.

"There is nothing illegal in saying to someone to say nothing. It seems to me to be patently clear that is not an act with intent to pervert the course of justice, nor was it intended to do so." Mr Duffy added: "If saying nothing was a crime our docks would be full of local solicitors who advised their clients being interviewed in police stations to say nothing.

"I struggle to see how that in any way can be deemed to be a criminal act."

Opposing the application, prosecution barrister Ciaran Murphy QC said by sending the messages the defendant was tipping off McCoy's family "in terms of what was going to occur when the police arrived".

"The defendant knew what had happened and that Mr McDonagh was then in a critical condition in the hospital with a critical brain injury.

"It is not a case of treating the defendant differently because she is a police officer. She knew what she was doing and what she was exhorting Miss McCoy to do," he said.

"I submit it was to remove potentially incriminating material from the house.

"This material was in relation to the criminal death of Mr McDonagh."

Judge Babington said he would rule on the no bill application on September 21.

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