‘We’re the UDA’ shouted gang as Catholic was attacked

Wife pleaded for dying man to fight for life following loyalist assault

THE widow of Coleraine man Kevin McDaid pleaded with him not to die as a police officer tried to save the 49-year-old’s life following an attack by loyalists, a court has heard. Evelyn McDaid told how a group of men shouting “We’re the UDA” descended on her street and set upon her Catholic husband Kevin and neighbour Damien Fleming after Rangers had won the Scottish Premiership title in May 2009.

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A judge heard dramatic details of how Mr McDaid collapsed outside his Somerset Drive home and his wife cried “fight, fight Kevin” as attempts were made to resuscitate him. Another witness described how the father-of-four had been kicked “everywhere possible”, while one of Damien Fleming’s attackers had “used his head like a rugby ball”. Neighbour Leona Whittaker claimed defendant Francis Daly had held on to a garden fence “to get himself balanced or whatever” before landing a kick on Mr Fleming, who suffered serious injuries. “I asked him was that the best he could do to an alcoholic, a man who didn’t have the hands to bless himself,” she said. Twelve men are charged with the manslaughter of Mr McDaid and attempted murder of Mr Fleming and other counts of assault and public order offences. A further two men are charged with making threats to kill and intimidation. A preliminary inquiry was held on Tuesday 31st December to determine whether they have a case to answer at trial. It is claimed a group of loyalists  traveled to the Killowen area of Coleraine’s Heights estate to take down tricolours and Celtic flags put up as Celtic FC and Rangers FC were playing separate matches at the culmination of the Scottish league title race. Evelyn McDaid described the men who arrived as “like a mob” and said her husband “seemed to disappear” among them. She claimed Mr Daly repeatedly punched and kicked her. Ryan MMcDaid, a son of the dead man, on Tuesday named six men he claimed had attacked his father. He also told a court how a “loyalist mob” was “kicking and jumping all over” Mr Fleming in the Pate’s Lane/Somerset Drive area. Another witness named three people she said had kicked Mr McDaid as he lay on the ground. Leona Whittaker said she was struck and kicked by John Thompson and also kicked by Frank (Francis) Daly and John McGrath. “A crowd of people just started attacking him, kicking him as he lay on the ground; everywhere possible, his face, his chest, his sides, his legs,” she said. Asked how she knew the defendant John Thompson, she replied: “Before religion was a problem in Coleraine he ran about with my brother.”

Ms Whittaker also claimed Francis Daly had assaulted her as she tried to help Mr McDaid’s injured wife Evelyn and when she told him she was pregnant he replied “Too bad”. The 30-year-old said Mrs McDaid was “getting punched in the face and kicked in the face” as she lay behind a car and had been pushed when she went to her husband’s aid. Mrs McDaid in turn told the court Mr Daly had hit and kicked her. Another of Kevin McDaid’s sons, Mark, told North Antrim Magistrate’s Court, sitting at Belfast on Tuesday, that “the police were up two or three times to ask for the flags to be took down”. Another neighbour, Michael McCormack, said a police officer had “asked if the flags could come down and we said they would be down first thing in the morning”. He claimed when the group arrived John  Thompson had shouted secterian abuse and then “it was like a tap had been turned on…. and they all started to come into the square at Pate’s Lane”. Mrs McDaid said she had also seen Mr Daly kick Mr Fleming and “I shouted to ‘stop kicking him you are going to kill him’ but they kept going on”. Mr Fleming gave evidence that John McGrath had “hit me a punch in the face”, and then “someone hit me on the back of the neck and I went down”. He told the court he had heard someone say: “There’s one of the Fenian bastards there’ and after that there I was kicked around the place”. Leona Whittaker’s sister-in-law Kelly Whittaker claimed the group had shouted: “We’re the UDA, we’re here to kick some Fenians’ heads in”. She said she shouted for the men to leave Mr Fleming alone, saying “he’s only a drunk man”, but “all I got was ‘he’s a f***king Fenian isn’t he, he’s getting what he deserves’.” Another witness, Danny Kennedy, said he saw defendant Paul Newman strike both Mr and Mrs McDaid with a piece of wood. Twelve men are charged with the manslaughter of Mr McDaid and attempted murder of Mr Fleming and other counts of assault and public order offences. The defendants are: David Craig Cochrane (23), Aaron Beech (28) and David James John Cochrane (52) all with addresses in Winyhall Park in Coleraine; Frank Simpson Daly (52) of Knock Road, Dervock; Paul Andrew Newman (49) of Grasmere Close, Coleraine; John Thompson (34), Knocknougher Road, Macosquin; James McAfee (32) and Ivan Beattie McDowell (47), both with addresses in Lisnablagh Road, Coleraine; Philip Kane (39) of Heron Way in Derry and Rodney Gardner (45) from Duncarn Road in Limavady. Two other men, Jonathan Norman Stirling (24) of Windyhall Park in Coleraine, and John Freeman (24) from Tullans Park, Coleraine, are charged with making threats to kill and intimidation. Following completion of all witness evidence, District Judge Desmond Perry adjourned the hearing and released all the defendants on continuing bail.

With many thanks to: Maeve CoConnolly, The Irish News.

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Masked flag-bearer appeals conviction

‘This classically is a case which calls for an answer from the person who knows whether he was on that march or not – Sir Declan Morgan.

A DERRY man given a suspended jail sentence for being the masked flag bearer in a republican parade was never properly identified, the Court of Appeal has heard. Lawyers for Patrick John McDaid argued that experts in facial mapping and image comparison techniques were not certain he had been the man pictured in a balaclava.

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As well as the photographs and facial mapping evidence, the judge in the non-jury trail in Belfast Crown Court heard how police later seized a document which purported to be minutes of a meeting to organise the march. It included the reference: ‘Colour party – McDaid to get people sorted’. But judges in the Court of Appeal were told on Tuesday that nothing more than a surname was found. Kieran Mallon QC, for McDaid, also challenged the strength of the evidence from an expert who noted striking similarities in the lips and eyes of his client and Man X. “It’s our contention there was not established any form of meaningful identification,” he said. “On balance he cannot say the accused and Mr X were one and the same person, primarily because there was no statistical database against which he could test an individual with that type of eye colour or lip shape.” Lord Chief Justice Declan Morgan, sitting with Lords Justice Girvan and Coghlin, drew his attention to two other strands of the prosecution case: McDaids name being on the organising document and his participation in previous events. Mr Mallon accepted there would have been clear suspicions, but contended this fell short of proof. Sir Declan then alluded to McDaid’s failure to give any evidence at trial. “This classically is a case which calls for an answer from the person who knows whether he was on that march or not,” he said. Judgment in the appeal was reserved.

With thanks to: The Irish News

LOYALIST VICTIM’S FAMILY STILL WAITING FOR JUSTICE

Trial of 12 men charged put back again 4 years after sectarian killing

MORE than four years after 12 men were charged with the sectarian killing of Kevin McDaid his family have asked ‘why are we still waiting for justice?’ Mr McDaid, (49), was beaten by a loyalist mob just yards from his home in the Heights area of Coleraine in May 2009.

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The Catholic father-of-four collapsed and died after being attacked by a gang who went on the rampage taking down Irish tricolors after Rangers (Servko) won the Scottish Premiership on May 24 2009. Twelve men have been charged in connection with the killing but have yet to come to trial. The case had been due to be heard at Ballymena Magistrates Court earlier this week but was put back until October. Last night the McDaid family hit out at the latest delay and questioned why the case is taking so long to come to court. Mr McDaid’s son Ryan said they felt they were “never going to get justice for my father”. “They said they needed more time to look at papers. My father’s been dead four and a half years, surely they had enough time to look at papers,” he said. The Public Prosecution Service said last night that the defendants ‘ legal teams had applied for more time to read documents they were given last year.

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The Northern Ireland Court Service, meanwhile, said the issue of continued delays was a matter for the legal teams in the case. Mr McDaid’s killing led to huge sectarian tensions in the Coleraine area and was raised in the assembly. The 12 men are also accused of the attempted murder of Mr McDaid’s friend in the same attack. “The PPS was ready to proceed with the committal hearing on Tuesday, however, the court agreed to a defence application for a further adjournment to allow time for the defence to read the disclosure papers which were served in October 2012 and further papers which were made available to the defence on July 8 this year,” a spokeswoman said. Court Service, meanwhile, said the issue of continued delays was a matter for the respective legal teams. It is understood the PPS met the McDaid family following the latest adjournment. The key prosecution witness is on remand in Maghaberry prison on drug charges. He was arrested in February.

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With many thanks to : Maeve Connolly, Irish News.

‘SUPERGRASS APPROACH’ TO MORTARS-ACCUSED !

A DERRY man charged in connection with the discovery of mortars in March R has been approached in prison by MI5 to turn ssupergrass, a court has been told. A solicitor for Gary McDaid, of Glenowen Park, told a remand hearing on Thursday at Derry Magistrates Court that while in Maghaberry Prison his client had been asked on six occasions to plead guilty and become an assisting offender.

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The approaches were made in the absence of McDaid’s solicitors, he said.Representations had been made to the Prison Service, the Chief Consable, the Secretary of State and the High Court in regards to the approaches. Deputy district judge John Meehan said one possible remedy could be the granting of bail to McDaid. He adjourned the case for one week for the prosecution to show cause why McDaid should not get bail. The Northern Ireland Office confirmed in a letter that the PSNI had visited McDaid in Maghaberry. McDaid and co-accused, Seamus McLaughlin (35) of Eastway Gardens, Creggan, Derry, are both charged with conspiring to cause expolsions and pocessing improvised mortars on March 3. The charges relate to the discovery of four mortars in a van on the Letterkenny Road in the city.