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Youth allegedly involved in fatal brawl granted bail but PPS will appeal decision

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John Paul McDonagh

John Paul McDonagh

John Paul McDonagh

The younger brother of Co Fermanagh murder victim John Paul McDonagh has been granted bail after being arrested for his alleged role in the incident in which his sibling was fatally stabbed.

The Public Prosecution Service told Dungannon Magistrates Court it intends to appeal the decision.

Mr McDonagh was struck on the back of his leg with a scythe on April 11 during a brawl in Enniskillen.

He suffered severe damage to a vital artery and Mr McDonagh was found collapsed at the scene by police who carried out CPR.

He suffered three cardiac arrests while undergoing treatment at South West Acute Hospital, becoming "critical and unstable". A decision was taken to amputate the injured leg to save Mr McDonagh's life, but his condition deteriorated and he died.

Joseph Joyce (29), from Coolcullen Meadows, Enniskillen, has been charged with murdering Mr McDonagh while in possession of an offensive weapon. He is currently remanded in custody.

Last week two of Mr McDonagh's brothers - one of whom is a youth - appeared in court jointly charged with wounding Joyce, possessing a spade as a weapon and affray. Both were refused bail.

However, a second application was mounted yesterday by the youth.

A detective highlighted CCTV footage of the incident stating: "All four were as violent as each other. It was only going to end in serious injury or death. Any one of the four could have been dealt a fatal wound."

He commended the work of the Athlone-based Traveller Medication Service who "have done a wonderful job given the gravity of this matter".

"They say there is no feud. But police still have fears of a feud developing," he said.

"We still have concerns if released (the youth) may reoffend, abscond or interfere with witnesses."

Under cross-examination by a defence barrister, the detective said the youth's arrest was postponed until after his brother's funeral to allow him and his family time to grieve. He confirmed the Joyce family have since left the area and their home is boarded up, but have not relinquished the contract, and intend to return at a later stage.

Asked if police could definitely state the youth had caused injury to Joyce the detective replied: "The footage shows a lot of swinging of weapons at close quarter. We do not say he did it and neither do we say he didn't."

Addressing the court, the defence said: "This is a young man with no previous record. He has lost his brother. The Traveller mediators have established there is no ongoing dispute. I don't think it's right he should be denied bail."

District Judge Eamon King said the incident was "an extremely serious and violent confrontation between two families in the Traveller community".

Referring to the ongoing work of the mediation group and their assessment of the situation, he decided the youth could be granted bail.

Bail was set at £500 with a cash surety of £1,000. The youth is to be electronically tagged, observe a curfew from 10pm-8am, and must not go beyond one mile of his agreed bail address. He is also banned from contact in public with any members of the wider McDonagh family.

The judge warned: "This will put a serious responsibility on (the youth) and his family. If police suspect he is any way connected to a feud, bail will be revoked."

Immediately afterwards, a prosecuting lawyer said the decision will be challenged. The youth will remain in custody, pending the outcome of the appeal.

Belfast Telegraph