Former Derry football captain Fergal Doherty charged with manslaughter. Source: Irish Times

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Former Derry football captain Fergal Doherty charged with manslaughter

Bar owner charged with manslaughter of Aaron Law in Portglenone, Co Antrim, on Sunday

File photograph of Fergal Doherty. Photograph: Inpho

Paul Higgins

Thu Nov 3 2022 – 12:36

A former Derry GAA captain and Co Antrim bar owner has been charged with the manslaughter of a customer.

Relatives of Aaron Law filled the public gallery at Ballymena Magistrates Court as, appearing at court by video link from police custody, 41-year-old Fergal Gerard Doherty was charged with his manslaughter on October 30th this year.

Mr Doherty, whose address was given as Pat’s Bar on Main Street in Portglenone, Co Antrim, confirmed that he understood the single charge against him. Detective Sergeant Brannigan said he believed he could connect the defendant to the charge.

Mr Law, a 34-year-old father-of-two from Portglenone, was found lying unconscious outside the bar at about 1.10pm on Sunday. Mr Law had suffered a head injury and was taken to hospital but later died.


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During a contested bail application, the court heard how Mr Law had been at a stag party in the bar when a doorman “escorted” him from the premises.

Outside, the victim had a “verbal altercation” with the doorman and, according to defence counsel Joe Brolly, Mr Law “swung a punch” at Doherty when he tried to intervene.

DS Brannigan agreed with the barrister’s suggestions that, according to the defendant and two witness statements, Mr Doherty punched Mr Law once, a punch that caused him to fall and strike his head on the roadway.

Mr Brolly’s submitted that Mr Doherty should not have been charged in the first place, given he was acting in self-defence, and also that there was an “overwhelming case” for the accused to be granted bail.

District Judge Nigel Broderick, however, refused bail.

The judge noted that more than a dozen witnesses still needed to be spoken to in the live investigation, which centred around a “small rural community”.

Remanding Mr Doherty into custody, he adjourned the case to December 1st.

Mr Doherty is a former Derry Gaelic football player and four-time GAA All Star nominee, who captained the county in 2009.

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