Jury considers verdict in soldier murder trial

The jury has retired to consider its verdict in the trial of a soldier accused of murdering Cpl Geoffrey McNeill (pictured).

The jury has retired to consider its verdict in the trial of a soldier accused of murdering Cpl Geoffrey McNeill (pictured).

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The jury has retired to consider its verdict in the trial of a soldier accused of killing a North Shore corporal at an army barracks.

The 11 jurors listened to three weeks of evidence at Birmingham Crown Court.

Lance Corporal Richard Farrell denies murdering Corporal Geoffey McNeill in the early hours of March 8 at the Clive Barracks in Tern Hill, Market Drayton, Shropshire.

The jury heard evidence from soldiers, medical experts and Farrell himself during the trial and has also seen numerous CCTV clips. The prosecution say that Farrell attacked Cpl McNeill, who was born in Northern Ireland but moved to Blackpool as a teenager, at the barracks after he had been punched by him at a pub the previous night.

The court heard Cpl McNeill was beaten, suffering serious blows to the head, stomach and genitals.

The main cause of his death was pressure to the neck, in which three bones were broken in the attack, the jury has been told.

There has been no dispute that Cpl McNeill, whose brother Jason still leaves in South Shore, was killed unlawfully that night, but Farrell has always denied it was him.

Farrell told the court he had no memory of the night after leaving the pub, and can not account for his whereabouts during the time when Cpl McNeill was killed.

But he told a jury he would have a feeling if he had killed Cpl McNeill and would know.

Farrell discovered Cpl McNeill’s body at about 9am on the morning of March 8 after waking up hungover in the guardroom on the camp, and he says he tried to administer CPR.

The court was also told that one of Cpl McNeill’s friends, Cpl Gordon Cronin, had been out drinking in Market Drayton with Cpl McNeill on the night he was killed.

Cpl Cronin died two months later while on leave at home in County Cork.

The jury heard that, in a note to his family, he said that after drinking shots in the Sandbrook Vaults he had not remembered anything.

In the note he said he had been trying to remember something but could not. He also wrote his lack of memory had “done his head in”.

He said he had gone to Cpl McNeill’s funeral, but his lack of memory had “started to eat away at me”.

Judge Melbourne Inman QC said there were three verdicts that could be returned – guilty of murder, not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter or not guilty.

By the end of Thursday the jury had failed to reach its verdict, and they will continue deliberations on Monday.