Jury sworn in for soldier murder trial

BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE. Undated West Mercia Police handout photo of Corporal Geoffrey McNeill, who has been named as the soldier who died at Tern Hill Barracks in Shropshire at the weekend. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday March 10, 2014. A 23-year-old serving soldier from the barracks has been arrested on suspicion of murder by West Mercia Police. See PA story POLICE Soldier. Photo credit should read: West Mercia Police/PA Wire''NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE. Undated West Mercia Police handout photo of Corporal Geoffrey McNeill, who has been named as the soldier who died at Tern Hill Barracks in Shropshire at the weekend. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday March 10, 2014. A 23-year-old serving soldier from the barracks has been arrested on suspicion of murder by West Mercia Police. See PA story POLICE Soldier. Photo credit should read: West Mercia Police/PA Wire''NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

A jury has been sworn in for the trial of a soldier accused of murdering a comrade who made Blackpool his adopted home.

A jury of eight men and four women were sworn in at Birmingham Crown Court yesterday.

They will sit through the three-week trial of Lance Corporal Richard Farrell, 23, who is accused of killing 32-year-old Corporal Geoffrey McNeill

Cpl McNeill’s body was discovered at Clive Barracks in Tern Hill, Shropshire, on March 8.

Both servicemen were part of the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Regiment. Cpl Farrell denied the murder in June and the trial is expected to last three to four weeks.

Cpl Farrell, wearing a grey suit with a blue tie, spoke only to confirm his name.

The prosecution will open its case today and the jury will be taken on a site visit to the barracks tomorrow.

Cpl McNeill’s inquest was opened and adjourned in March by Mr John Ellery, coroner for Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin.

The hearing was adjourned until a date to be set following the outcome of the criminal process.

A funeral for Cpl McNeill was held at Portrush in Northern Ireland where colleagues from the regiment provide a guard of honour, along with members of the Royal British Legion.

More than 300 soldiers from the 1st Battalion the Royal Irish Regiment took place in the parade at Cpl McNeill’s funeral service.

Cpl McNeill’s brother Jason lives in South Shore.

His father Thomas also lives in the resort, while older brother Brian, 34, and mum Phyllis live in Northern Ireland.

Cpl McNeill was originally from Ballymoney, Northern Ireland, but spent time living in Blackpool with various members of his family from the age of 15 - attending St George’s School, in Marton.

He owned a house in North Shore, with his 27-year-old brother Lee and was described as a keen angler at Rossall Point who enjoyed staying active.