LATEST - Murder trial of Ballymoney solder begins

Corporal Geoffrey McNeill was from Ballymoney
Corporal Geoffrey McNeill was from Ballymoney
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A Ballymoney soldier was left with a broken neck after being brutally murdered by his comrade at a barracks after a night out drinking, a jury has been told.

At the start of his murder trial, prosecutors alleged Lance Corporal Richard Farrell, a serving soldier with The Royal Irish Regiment, “inflicted heavy blows” to fellow unit mate Corporal Geoffrey McNeill, at their base in Shropshire in March this year.

Christopher Hotten QC, prosecuting, said it was the Crown’s case 23-year-old Farrell “violently and brutally attacked” the victim landing blows to his alleged victim’s “head, stomach, and genitals”.

He added 32-year-old Cpl McNeill had been killed by a “significant force” applied to his neck, breaking three bones, in an attack carried out between 4am and 6am on Saturday, March 8.

Setting out the prosecution case to the trial jury of four women and eight men on Tuesday at Birmingham Crown Court, Mr Hotten said: “We say Cpl McNeill was murdered.

“He was attacked and his attacker caused his injuries unlawfully – there was no lawful excuse for the attack or the injuries inflicted.

“The attacker intended, at the very least, to cause Geoffrey McNeill really serious injury and he died as a result of those injuries.”

Cpl McNeill, who was born in Ballymoney, was found dead in his room at Tern Hill’s Clive Barracks, which is where the Crown says the crime took place.

Mr Hotten added there was “no history of ill-feeling or animosity” between the two men, who served within different companies in the Army unit, based at the time at the Shropshire barracks.

The jury also heard how the previous evening, on Friday March 7, both men had separately been drinking before heading out to the nearby town of Market Drayton.

Mr Hotten described an incident in the town’s Clive and Coffyne pub, involving Farrell, which the Crown alleged happened later that evening.

“At one point, he (Farrell) was told by another soldier that a girl with whom he was talking was with another man,” said Mr Hotten.

“Mr Farrell was annoyed and complained that some soldiers were, as he put it, acting ‘like maggots’.”

Mr Hotten told jurors that they would hear testimony from fellow soldiers, and look at evidence from both CCTV cameras and a mobile phone.

Farrell, wearing a smart dark suit and tie and sporting close-cropped dark hair, listened intently from the dock as the Crown Prosecution Service set out its case.

The trial, expected to last four weeks, continues.