Northern Ireland

One-punch killing: McGoverns want someone to take responsibility

Jason McGovern Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Jason McGovern died after being attacked during a night out in Omagh

The family of a County Monaghan man killed in a one-punch attack want someone to take responsibility for it, the victim's brother has said.

Jason McGovern, 19, died after being attacked on a night out in Omagh, County Tyrone, on New Year's Eve, 2012.

No-one has been convicted of the killing, although several people have been sentenced over a fight involving Jason and his friends that night.

Jason's brother Niall said the family feel they will never get justice.

A County Tyrone man acquitted of the "one-punch killing" was on Friday given a four-month suspended sentence for affray on the night of Mr McGovern's death.

Mark Donnelly, 23, from Greencastle was acquitted of his manslaughter in June.

'Nobody's been held accountable'

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Media captionNiall McGovern says it's hard to accept he'll never see his brother again

"It's just someone to take responsibility is what would mean a lot to us - I don't think we'll ever get that sense of justice," Mr McGovern said.

"I think that's what makes it even harder, not only losing Jason, but no-one's taken responsibility, and that's hard to deal with."

He added: "We thought we had a strong case at the start of proceedings and look how it went.

"Nobody's been held accountable."

There were two incidents involving Jason and his friends on the night.

In the first, outside a bar, a friend of Jason's jaw was fractured in an attack. A number of people - including Mark Donnelly, 23, from Greencastle, who was cleared of Jason's manslaughter - were convicted for their roles in that attack.

Jason, who was studying performing arts at college, was injured after being punched in a second incident in the car park of a different pub.

He died at a friend's home hours after the incident.

'Lives in limbo'

Niall McGovern said the family's lives had been in limbo for the last four years.

"We're just glad we can put an end to that legal process and get on with our lives," he said.

Image caption The fatal assault happened in the car park of the Weigh Inn bar in Omagh

"It's not the outcome that we would have liked, but we're just glad we can start moving on with our lives and start grieving.

"Every time something happened in the case, Jason's face was in the paper and it brings it all back home."

'Pointless argument'

Niall McGovern said his brother had done nothing to provoke either incident that night.

"Jason definitely wasn't a provoker of any situation," he said.

"Looking back it was just a pointless argument that he didn't play any part in - he was just the victim.

"Whenever we saw the CCTV footage and you could see Jason, that was his role, the peacekeeper, the friend, he was the person who looked after people on a night out."

Jason was one of three brothers, from the village of Tydavnet, whose mother has MS.

Niall McGovern said his brother loved to help his mother and his death and been particularly difficult for her.

Image caption Mark Donnelly was convicted of affray but cleared of manslaughter

"He's a big loss in her life," he said.

"My mother's MS, she can't go through her own grieving process. She's very much immobile and she's doing everything in front of everyone, she can't close the door or go to a different room."

Niall McGovern was at his girlfriend's house in Galway when he received the news that his brother was dead.

"I went into the house and the phone rang, it was Dad broke the news to me," he said.

"It's unexplainable just the feeling that comes over you, I've never felt anything like that before."

"Even now, looking back, it's still hard to take in and hard to believe, the type of person Jason was, that something like that could happen to him."

'Friends with everyone'

He said the only consolation he could take was that his brother had lived his life to the full.

"He was friends with everyone, there was no-one he wouldn't get on with, he'd chat with everyone, young and old," said Niall McGovern.

"I suppose that's the only positive thing that you can take out of it - even though his life was short he made the most of it, he lived it to the full."

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