A 23-year old man has received a three-year sentence for the manslaughter of Darren O’Neill at a beach in County Down in June 2019.
Mr O’Neill, 22, died in hospital after what police described as a “one-punch incident” at Tyrella beach.
On Friday, a judge at Belfast Crown Court told Joseph Dorrian of Lakeview, Crumlin that he will serve half his three-year sentence in prison.
He will serve the other half of his sentence on licence.
Dorrian had claimed he was acting in self-defence when he struck Mr O’Neill, who died two days after the friends got into a fight.
Judge Geoffrey Miller QC said that it was an “unusual case” which resulted in the “most tragic of consequences”.
He added there was no evidence the defendant was intoxicated and that he had “struck one blow” and did not follow up.
“Indeed it is accepted that he offered assistance to his friend.
“Nevertheless he did not act in self-defence and his actions were unjustified,” the judge said.
Judge Miller also referred to the “tension” that exists between the O’Neill and Dorrian families.
He said it was no part of the function of the court to “adjudicate” on those matters and that it could not “factor into the sentencing process” which must apply to the facts found by the jury at the trial.
“There can be no doubt any of the young people who travelled down to the coast that afternoon either expected or intended that it should end so tragically,” said the judge.
He added that O’Neill and Dorrian were in “high spirits” on the “hottest day of the year”.
“Although the precise sequence of events after the deceased stopped the vehicle cannot be definitively determined, it is clear that Joseph Dorrian approached Darren, slapped him and goaded him into a reaction,” the judge said.
“The blow the deceased aimed at the defendant was misdirected, hitting his shoulder and glancing limply off his jaw.
“It was then that the defendant delivered the fatal punch and by their verdict the jury categorically rejected his argument that in so doing he believed himself to be under threat and was acting in self-defence.”
In sentencing Dorrian, the judge said he considered the appropriate sentence was one of three years with 18 months in custody and 18 months on licence.
Shouting could be heard in the courtroom following the sentencing and the judge adjourned the court for a brief period.