29 Jun 2022

Defence counsel says CCTV was the 'saviour' for Longford man acquitted of manslaughter

Defence counsel says CCTV was the 'saviour' for Longford man acquitted of manslaughter

Defence counsel says CCTV was the 'saviour' for Longford man acquitted of manslaughter

A Longford man has been cleared of the manslaughter of another man in a pub car park last year.

Gerard Melia (32) Derrygowna, Lanesboro, Co Longford, had pleaded not guilty to the unlawful killing of 50-year-old Noel McGann at Leavy's Public House car park, Foigha, Kenagh  Co Longford on August 1, 2019.

Mr McGann died three days later in hospital as a result of injuries sustained after falling to the ground and hitting his head.

The accused, a panel beater and former Newtowncashel GAA player, had claimed Mr McGann had been "sneering and laughing" at him earlier in the day over a former girlfriend of Mr Melia's from four years previously.

In interviews with gardai following his arrest, Mr Melia said Mr McGann had "lunged" at him after telling him he would "kick him up and down" the pub car park.

"I asked him what was his problem," Mr Melia told gardai in interview.

CCTV footage of the incident was shown to the court of the two men "gesticulating" in the car park after Mr Melia had asked Mr McGann outside.

The accused, when asked why he had invited Mr McGann outside the pub,  said that he had no reason to hate the 50 year old but wanted to know why the deceased was talking about him. 

He said he felt he had to hit the 50 year old as he thought the deceased was "coming" for him. 

The prosecution claimed Mr Melia's reliance on a case of self defence did not apply as there was no evidence Mr McGann had provoked Mr Melia for a long time.

The prosecution claimed that the CCTV had no agenda and that the accused had nursed a grievance against the 50 year old and engaged in a " deliberate, unprovoked act of violence".

Defence counsel Brendan Grehan SC, claimed CCTV was the "saviour" of the accused and that it showed Mr Melia was backing away from Mr McGann outside the bar moments before the tragedy unfolded.

He said the 32 year did not want it to happen, and the "one light hook" which Mr Melia threw was a "weak looking punch".

After almost four and a half hours of deliberations at Longford Circuit Criminal Court a jury of six men and four women found Mr Melia not guilty.

The accused hugged his partner in the witness box as the verdict was read out by Judge Keenan Johnson.

In excusing the panel of ten jurors from service for a period of five years, Judge Johnson said the events of the three day trial and past 14 months since Mr McGann passed away had been especially trying for his immediate family.

"This was a difficult case for all parties involved but particularly for the McGann family," he said, adding that despite the verdict, their sense of loss of Mr McGann was not lost on him or the court.

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