Teenager denies manslaughter of boy in schoolyard incident

A teenage student has pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter of a 13-year-old boy who died following a playground incident at school.

Francis McDermott, 19, of Camphill Park, Newtownbutler in Co Fermanagh, has denied killing schoolboy Oisin McGrath who died four days after an incident at St Michael's College, Enniskillen, in February 2015.

Members of Oisin's family were in Dungannon Crown Court for the short arraignment.

McDermott's lawyer told the court the defence team intend "to conduct the defence in such a way as to minimise the pain these proceedings will cause to the family of Oisin McGrath".

He added it was "an unusual set of circumstances that led to the collapse and death of Oisin McGrath".

Oisin was taken to hospital following the lunchtime incident in the schoolyard and was put on a life support machine. He died four days later.

His parents have since set up a foundation in Oisin's memory to raise awareness of organ donation, brain injury research and local youth sports development.

McDermott, who was a sixth former at the same school as Oisin at the time of the incident, only spoke to confirm his name and address and to enter his not guilty plea.

The court heard that a number of investigations were carried out at the school and several pupils were interviewed.

A prosecution barrister said the trial will last three weeks due to the number of young people involved and medical issues that will be raised.

McDermott, who is a first year student, was released on continuing bail.

The case has been adjourned until March 23 for mention.

During a previous court hearing, a defence lawyer told the court that what happened on February 9 2015 "has devastated two families".

"Francis will carry the memory and effect of what happened in the schoolyard on that day with him for the rest of his life," he said.

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