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'Our lives have been shattered forever': Man sentenced for manslaughter of schoolboy in 2015

13-year-old Oisin McGrath, following an incident at St Micheal’s College, Fermanagh.

Image: Shutterstock/Sebastian Duda

A FERMANAGH MAN has been sentenced to 18 months in prison, suspended for three years at Dungannon Crown Court today for the manslaughter of a boy at a school in 2015.

Francis McDermott, aged 20, from Camphill Park, Newtownbutler, pleaded guilty in October to the manslaughter of 13-year-old Oisin McGrath, following an incident at St Micheal’s College in Enniskillen on 9 February 2015.

Both McDermott and McGrath were students in the school at the time of the incident.

The court heard younger pupils at the school had been trying to keep a football from older pupils, one of whom was McDermott, BBC News reports.

McDermott had grabbed at the 13-year-old and gave him a “moderate blow behind the left ear, but it burst a vein,” according to the BBC. He died three days after the incident from a head injury.

In a statement released after sentencing today, Oisin’s family said that the 13-year-old was in full health when he died and had no underlying conditions. “He was not struck by a bottle or a ball, Oisín was intentionally struck by Francis McDermott and this action caused his death. If Oisín had not been hit, he would still be here today,” the statement said.

Detective Chief Inspector Gareth Talbot, from PSNI’s Serious Crime Branch, said that while the sentencing brings a close to the police investigation, it doesn’t bring an end to the pain Oisin’s family and friends are suffering.

“They continue to face a life without Oisin and miss him daily as he was their beloved son, brother, grandson, nephew and cousin. They will now not see him finish his education or find a career, grow into a young man or know what his future might hold,” Talbot said.

He issued a reminder that “one spur of the moment action”, be it at school or any other setting, can have long-term and devastating consequences for all involved – the victim and also the perpetrator.

“I would urge people to think before they act, as one strike can kill.”

‘Our lives stood still’

Oisín’s family said in their statement that they have been left “with our own life sentence” since his death.

Oisín was an amazing young person with his whole life ahead of him, we will always miss his presence; his voice, his laughter and the pride we felt watching him grow into a wonderful young individual.
It breaks our hearts every minute of every day that we will never see him, hear him, or hug him again.

“On that day in February 2015, Oisin’s life was ended and our lives stood still, shattered forever.

“Oisín paid the ultimate price with his life and we, without him, are left with our own life sentence.  No words versed today will bring Oisín back or change the damage caused.

Our battle to deal with our loss has only just begun; it’s a horrific, stomach churning, tearful and emotional place that we never thought we would find ourselves in.  We miss Oisín so much and need to try to deal with our loss as best we can, so we would respectfully ask that our family are now left to grieve in peace.

“Oisín will be forever running in our hearts and we will continue to raise awareness of organ donation and brain injury in his memory, as well as continuing with youth sports development in our community; but nothing will ever be the same again.”

Additional reporting by Christine Bohan

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