BREAKING: Student escapes jail over tragic Oisin death

Francis McDermott


A Newtownbulter man has been handed a suspended sentence for a one punch assault in a school playground tussle which led to the tragic death of fellow pupil.


Twenty-year-old Francis McDermott, from Camphill Park admitted unlawfully killing Oisin McGrath in what began as a playground incident over a football.

The victim was a fellow pupil at the time at St Michael’s College, Enniskillen and a court heard McDermott “will live with the consequences of his actions for the rest of his life”.

He had denied the charge when first arraigned at Dungannon Crown Court and his defence team sought expert medical opinion on the injury which caused Oisin’s death.

However when this was finally obtained and considered, McDermott dramatically changed his plea.

During police interview he confirmed landing a minimal force blow to the front of Oisin’s neck in the playground incident on 9 February 2015.

McDermott was among a group of sixth formers, who chased after Oisin and his classmates when they ran off with a football.

But the blow led to complications and Oisin sustained serious head trauma.


Described in court as “a perfect young man” much loved by his family, Oisin passed away in hospital four days after the incident.

Defence counsel told the court his client was devastated by what had occurred and remained very, very sorry. There had been no malice or ill-will against Oisin and under no circumstances had McDermott, who was 17 at the time, set out to hurt the boy.

Not for one moment did he consider how tragic the consequences of that one punch would be”, said his barrister.

Seated in the dock dressed in a navy-blue suit, white shirt and blue tie, McDermott kept his head down, and was visibly distressed as His Honour Judge Stephen Fowler QC read over the facts of the case.

Just behind him in the public gallery, were Oisin’s parents and other family members who wept quietly.

The judge told McDermott whilst his conviction might blight his life it “paled into insignificance with the loss suffered by the McGrath family.”

He added: “I am acutely aware there is no sentence I can impose that could offer any comfort to Oisin’s family for their loss of such a bright, energetic and loving boy full of such potential.”

McDermott was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment suspended for three years.

The McGrath family left quietly after the case ended.


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