A West Belfast man has today (Friday, 5th March) received a three-year sentence at Downpatrick Crown Court, sitting at Laganside, for the manslaughter of Darren O’Neill.

Joseph Dorrian will serve 18 months in custody and 18 months on licence for the manslaughter of the 22-year-old who died two days after he was seriously injured during an altercation on Tyrella beach almost two years ago, on 27th June, 2019. Darren had travelled to Tyrella beach with Joseph Dorrian, 23 years old, and two female friends, arriving there at around 5pm.

Detective Inspector Darren McCartney, from the PSNI’s Major Investigation Team said: “Shortly after 7pm an altercation took place between Darren and Joseph, which resulted in Darren collapsing following a punch to his head. The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service responded before taking Darren to hospital where he tragically died as a result of his injuries, on 29th June 2019.”

Joseph Dorrian was subsequently arrested and, while he was initially charged with grievous bodily harm, the charge was later amended to manslaughter following Darren’s death.

A trial took place earlier this year at Downpatrick Crown Court, sitting in Laganside where, on the 22nd January 2021, Mr Dorrian was found guilty of the manslaughter of Darren O’Neill.

Detective Inspector McCartney added: “My thoughts today are first and foremost with Darren's parents, Anne Marie and Henry, his siblings and the wider family circle.

"What should have been a fun day at the beach with friends turned out to be every parent's worst nightmare; the death of a much loved eldest son and brother.

"No-one could have foreseen the tragic outcome that a trip to the beach would have, and the devastating impact an altercation like this would have on so many people and the lives it would ruin.

"The last year and a half has been unimaginable for Darren's family, but we hope today's sentencing will help them in their journey of coping with his untimely and senseless death.

"The tragic circumstances which resulted in the death of Darren, a young man who had his whole life ahead of him, is a brutal reminder of just how an altercation taking a matter of seconds, can be life changing and of the horrific impact it can have on so many."

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