21 February 2014 No Comments by The Northern Standard

By Michael McDonnell

A YOUNG Lough Egish man was given a mandatory life imprisonment sentence at the Central Criminal Court sitting in Monaghan after being found guilty of murdering a 22-year-old musician, in an incident in which the victim’s own car was driven at him on a minor roadway just north of Lisdoonan village.

Conor McClelland, aged 22, of Cullentrabane, Laragh, Castleblayney (near Lough Egish) had denied a charge of murdering Gavin O’Connor from the Kingscourt area in the early hours of 4th June 2011, but had pleaded guilty to a charge of assault causing harm.

But shortly after lunchtime on Tuesday, the jury of seven women and five men unanimously found McClelland guilty of murder after deliberating for just under two and a half hours.

In a trial that had lasted two weeks, the court was told that Mr O’Connor, who had been sleeping in the back of his car when it was stolen by the defendant, had been struck over the head with rocks.
In interviews with garda detectives Bobby Ogle, John Doherty and John Callanan, McClelland had admitted that when Mr O’Connor was out of the car he drove the vehicle at him in an attempt to make the injuries caused by hitting him with rocks look like a hit and run accident.

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy imposed the mandatory life sentence for murder, along with a concurrent three-year prison term for the assault charge.

The assault sentence was backdated to the date of the event, 4th June 2011, in view of the fact that McClelland was refused bail and has been in custody since that time.

Mr O’Connor, of Ballynaclose, Kilmainhamwood, Co Meath (close to the Cavan border and the town of Kingscourt), was a rock guitar player who had previously …

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