Man jailed for life for killing musician

A man has been jailed for life after he was found guilty of the murder of a musician over two years ago.

Conor McClelland, aged 22, of Cullentrabane, Laragh, Castleblayney, Co Monaghan, had denied murdering Gavin O’Connor, from Kilmainhamwood, Co Meath, also aged 22, at Lisdoonan village, near Carrickmacross, in the early hours of June 4, 2011.

The jury returned the guilty verdict after just under two-and-a-half hours.

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy imposed the life sentence on McClelland.

The judge also imposed a concurrent three-year jail term on McClelland on the assault charge, to which the accused had pleaded guilty.

The three-week trial at the Central Criminal Court in Monaghan heard that the accused drove off in Mr O’Connor’s car, in which Mr O’Connor was sleeping and which had been parked on a street in Carrickmacross.

Both men were attending a music festival in the town.

McClelland admitted to gardaí that after Mr O’Connor awoke in the vehicle, he struck him across the head with rocks a number of times, and when Mr O’Connor then emerged onto the road, he drove the car at him.

He admitted doing this to make the injuries caused by hitting the victim with rocks look as if they were caused in a motor accident.

Mr O’Connor, a guitarist with a local classic rock group, was found lying on the roadway at about 5.30am. He was pronounced dead at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda shortly before seven o’clock that evening.

State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy told the court his death was due to injuries to the head and brain caused by vehicular impact.

After sentencing, an aunt of Mr O’Connor, Liz Penman, read out a lengthy victim impact report compiled by Gavin’s sister Judith, outlining how his death had left the family suffering from post traumatic stress.

She said how violent scenes on film or TV remind Mr O’Connor’s parents of his bloody and bludgeoned body with a plastic face in his coffin. She also described how as a nurse in Australia, she now cannot bear working in A&E or other trauma centres because of the death her brother had suffered.


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