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Good evening, our top stories on BBC Newsline tonight...
A West Belfast father is found not guilty of killing his baby daughter.
Police failings in their search for
this young man were inexplicable, inexcusable
His family welcomed the corner's finding. It has been so hard to find
answers, the search was not done properly.
A lucky escape for a County Antrim family, as a slurry tanker crashes
Controversy over who will chair talks after the Assembly election -
one former American chairman rules himself out.
The geese who fly in from Iceland to winter in Belfast's Shankill.
On a bumper weekend of rugby, illness sees Ireland's Rory Best
While here in Belfast, Ulster aim for rehabilitation
And the cold weather continues this weekend,
I'll have your full forecast later in the programme.
A man has been found not guilty of murdering his baby daughter.
Caragh Walsh was three months old when she died in February 2014.
Her father - Christopher O'Neill from the Whiterock Road
in West Belfast - was accused of her murder.
The jury at Craigavon Crown Court, sitting in Armagh, this afternoon
Throughout the four-week trial, Christopher O'Neill denied any
suggestion that he found bye-bye Caragh, saying that he loved her to
bits. -Year-old from West Belfast was accused of killing his
three-month-old baby daughter by shooting her violently whilst in a
rage at her home in February 20 14. During the trial, he said that he
had shaken her, trying to revive her, she thought she was dying,
bye-bye Caragh died in hospital two days later.
In Craigavon Crown Court, the jury of 10,000,001 woman, fined by
majority verdict of at least ten to one was not guilty of killing his
baby daughter. -- the jury of one man, ten men, one women. The family
side with Billy. In the gallery behind him, the baby's mother stood
up and shouted, you killed my baby, my baby is dead because of you. She
was led from the court room with her family. Still in the dock, Mr
O'Neill put his head in his hands. When the judge said he was free to
leave, his family applauded and have Tim and said, we love you. Mr
O'Neill's solicitor said it had been a difficult case with no winners.
A coroner has criticised police for failing to find a young man
who died after going missing from a mental health unit.
His body was found ten weeks later close to the unit
22-year-old James Fenton had been identified as "high risk"
after telling staff he wanted to kill himself.
The family of James Fenton were at court this afternoon
for what marked the end of long, difficult and at times
It's been our horrendously long road, not just for a few months, but
for 6.5 years. It has been so, so hard.
22-year-old James Fenton went missing from Ward 27
at the Mental Health Unit in early July 2010.
And police were called in to search the grounds
They failed to find the missing man, whose body was discovered
less than 40 metres from the Mental Health
The coroner was a very critical of the police response when James
Fenton went missing from the mental health unit. He describe you feel
size inexplicable, -- describe refill yours as inexplicable and
excusable. It was said that he could have found them more quickly
although it could not be said with Steve would have been alive. --
could not have said whether he would have been alive.
A police ombudsman report was also critical of how the case
was handled and 12 officers were subsequently disciplined.
The PSNI has since changed its policy and practices on missing
persons as a direct result of the Fenton case.
The coroner described the actions of the hospital staff at the time
But he had harder words for the PSNI.
Joe McCrisken said consideration should have been given
to a police dog search, which may have led to Mr Fenton
being found shortly after he'd absconded.
Today, the PSNI issued a wholehearted apology to the Fenton
family for the police failings in this case.
I am hoping things will change. I know that the PSNI have changed. We
have changed how to search for a missing person but they cannot make
the excuse of not enough funding for mental health, things have to
change. How many more people have to lose their lives?
The coroner found that, due to advanced decomposition,
the cause of James Fenton's death was unascertainable,
although it was his view that the young man died
shortly after he climbed over the gate and absconded from
the Ulster Hospital's Mental Health Unit.
Mervyn Jess, BBC Newsline, at Belfast Coroner's Court.
A care worker found guilty of abusing elderly residents
at a care home in Dunmurray has been sentenced
41-year-old Lisa Cullen from Lagmore Drive in Dunmurray
was sentenced after pleading guilty to assaulting a whistleblower
from the home at a previous court appearance.
Our reporter, Dan Stanton, was in court.
Lisa Cullen leaving court after being found guilty of abusing
patients. She was released on bail because she is appealing her
sentence. The judge said she had shown no
remorse or change of attitude since being found guilty of the ill
treatment of elderly patients in her care. The judge sentenced her to a
total of four months in jail. The offences took place sometime
between November 2012 and December 2013 at this care home in Dunmurray.
Five elderly patients, two men, three women, were mistreated there.
Relatives of the patients at the Kilwee nursing home Clapton Court
after the sentence was passed. It was the hardest thing we have ever
done was to put our model there, and to find out that she hit my mother,
its soul destroying. She told my husband she had full Alzheimer's,
was like a baby, and was better to go out and run around traffic. She
was sentenced today after assaulting a whistle-blower on the grounds of
Lisburn Magistrates Court after a previous hearing. She had a vendetta
against me, she hated me for some reason, I do not know what, I have
been tortured, I have been just literally tortured from all of this
happening, she seems to have passed the blame onto me and be alone. Lisa
Cullen didn't say anything as she was being driven away from court.
A County Antrim man says he's been left in shock after a slurry tank
crashed through a wall into his front garden
Our north east reporter Sara Girvin has the story.
CCTV shows the dramatic moment a slurry tank crashes
It missed the home itself, in Glenavy, by less than a metre.
The homeowner, who was in the property at the time,
said he's just glad no-one was hurt.
Well, obviously quite shocked, but believed, it could have been so much
worse. If somebody was standing here, you can see where parts of the
wall have gone flying. It could have been worse if myself, children or
anyone had been there, postman, anybody at all!
The Belfast Road was closed for a time while the car,
tractor and slurry tank involved in the crash were removed.
Oil also had to be cleaned up, but the road has reopened.
Plans by the Health Minister Michelle O'Neill to tackle hospital
waiting lists have been criticised by the DUP Leader Arlene Foster.
In a letter, Mrs Foster responded to Minister O'Neill's
thirty-one million pound plan to treat patients who have been
The DUP leader accused Sinn Fein of electioneering.
But Sinn Fein hit back saying the DUP were trying
to deflect attention away from the RHI scandal.
Opposition to the Secretary of State chairing negotiations after
Sinn Fein, the SDLP and Alliance have doubted James Brokenshire's
suitability after he claimed inquiries into Troubles-related
killings were disproportionately focused on the police and army.
Here's our political correspondent Gareth Gordon.
The Secretary of State used an address to business leaders
in Belfast last night to call for an early return to power
But after his recent claim that there is too much focus
on Troubles killings carried out by the security forces,
is he the person to lead the negotiations?
If you look at his actions to date, for example his comments in relation
to British soldiers being given immunity, and the views of the
people of the North who want to stay within the European Union, his
one-sided partisan views on a lot of things, I don't believe he is an
honest broker. Unionists came to the Secretary
of State's defence. We have tried International chairs
in the past, with no success. We are part of the United Kingdom. The
Secretary of State is the Secretary of State. If they are going into
further negotiations, I would expect the Secretary of State to cheer
them. Sinn Fein want a period of direct rule. The person they are
criticising, in the form of James Brokenshire, will have
uncontrollable rule over Northern Ireland. From my perspective, I
think the people of Northern Ireland will not react well to Sinn Fein
arrogantly saying the British government should have no role in
the talks. But opposition to the James
Brokenshire having a talks role There is no way whatsoever now that
the Secretary of State can act as some kind of honest broker, he is
not independent, we need an independent, international figure
who chaired the legacy element of the talks, that's the only way this
can be done. The UK Secretary of State is a key player but has to
reflect the approach is taken to date and change his approach. His
approach to date has been and is viewed as many as being partisan,
which will not produce the results in terms of ensuring that we have
devolution restored to Northern Ireland.
It's one more potential obstacle standing in the way
Now, if the post-election negotiations require
an independent chairman, it won't be Senator George Mitchell.
He chaired the talks which led to the Good Friday Agreement,
of course, but in an interview at Queen's University
in Belfast today, he said the parties don't need him.
He's been speaking to BBC Newsline's Mark Simpson.
How have you been? The last time we met, he was during
crisis talks at Stormont, sort two decades later, is he ready to make a
comeback? I've done my tour of duty here. And I think, in every
situation, you constantly have to meet new challenges. And with new
people and new ideas. I know these men and women, they have been up to
it in the past, they gotten over much bigger hurdles than this, and
kept the process going, and I am confident they will do so again. The
Good Friday Agreement will be 20 years old next year. Some believe it
has now passed its sell by date. And there needs to be a new agreement? I
don't look at it in terms of a new agreement completely replacing an
old agreement. What I look at this as a process of change to meet the
changing circumstances and conditions. Many people watching
will be seeing BSG goes again, always so optimistic, cup holders
half full, he must be worried this agreement is falling apart in front
of our very eyes. -- many people will say, there goes again. I have
been in Northern Ireland, both at home in the process that led to the
agreement and to as Chancellor is this great institution, Queen's
University, to know the basic strength of the people of Northern
Ireland. One of the strengths is there a self-critical and sometimes
they are too much self-critical. I am often asked, isn't it terrible,
these problems we have politics? I said, you are asking an American
that question? You don't think we have problems? That exists all
around the world. Let's concentrate on solutions, rather than on how we
get there. He is now 83 years of age and still working. But as far as
Stormont is concerned, Mitchell has now retired. Mark Sampson, BBC
Newsline at Queen's University. Now, they're seasonal visitors
who return every year. But some of the Greylag geese
who migrate to Belfast have picked a rather unusual spot
to see out the winter. Our Agriculture and Environment
Correspondent, Conor Macauley, They've been coming
to the Shankill Estate for years. These Greylag geese fly
in from Iceland for the winter. It's said that, when they first
arrived, the word went out With an ample supply of food -
both the short grass they favour and what the locals regularly
provide - they've prospered. Greylag geese have been coming to
the Shankill estate for around ten years. These birds are very
site-specific so it is entirely possible that these are the
descendants of the original flock. They're a bit of a
novelty on the estate. The annual arrival a date
in the Shankill calendar. I have a funny feeling it's the same
keys. I know they all look the same, but... They all look the same, but
there is one that of colour around it, and that of colour, so someone
must be monitoring their flight. It may not be the obvious habitat,
what with the potential risks posed by pets and people,
but its working for the Greylags. It seems strange to people walking
past, this flock of geese in the Nir Biton but -- in an urban
environment, but they are safe, needing small amounts of water, and
they can feed here during the day. Every night, they leave
the estate for the lakes Clearly a bird that likes
to spread itself around A woman from Belfast says she had
no hesitation in undergoing major surgery in a bid
to help save a stranger's life. 23-year-old Jenna Armstrong
originally took part in a bone marrow test to help
save a child with cancer. When no match was found,
she was later told she was Our Health Correspondent
Marie-Louise Connolly What better way to celebrate
saving someone's life That's exactly what Jenna Armstrong
did three weeks ago, after donating her bone marrow
to a stranger. It was a no-brainer, it was one of
those things that in my head I had to do. It was a chance to
potentially help save someone in a particularly tricky situation and,
in my head, what I was doing was insignificant what they had been
going through. Last year, 23-year-old Jenna
and her family registered to become That means, if a suitable match
is found, they can donate blood When the call came, Jenna
and her mum travelled I had five injections into my back
and the extracted 1.2 litres of my bone marrow, the maximum they can
take for my height and weight for the person, they told me it was a
29-year-old man in America and he would be receiving the bone marrow
of the day after I needed it. It was emotional because it was before
Christmas and all I could think of was, if that was somebody in my
family, or my child, my brother, my sister, I would hope someone would
do what Jenna has done. Bone marrow is a spongy tissue found
in the hollow centres of some bones. The stem cells found
there are extremely healthy. When pumped into a sick person,
it can help save their life. Here at Queen's University Belfast,
clinical trials continue Basically, what it does is give them
a new immune system, different from the patient. One, and that new
immune system because it is different has the ability to fight
the disease and we know from long-term working on this in the
majority of people this will cure the disease. -- immune system
different from the patient's own. A champion Irish dancer,
Jenna's appealing to others to follow in her footsteps
and to become a blood Sport now and Ireland played Italy
tomorrow. Rory Best will have to sit it out because of injury.
It was a captain's run with a difference for Ireland, no captain
in attendance. Rory Best, who so often leads from the front, was back
in his Hotel room nursing a stomach bug he picked up overnight. The
other always think that crop up in the course of a week and I think how
we react and respond to it will hopefully allow us to continue the
preparation as seamlessly as possible and unfortunately these
things happened, but we are confident he will recover in time
for tomorrow. Before the Ireland team arrived here this afternoon,
another Irishman was that to grace the turf but not playing, the
Italian head coach Colin or she is plotting Ireland's downfall tomorrow
after having war on the show many times. From my point of duty is
someone great. Looking for the players to have a good environment
and working well. If you win tomorrow, I think he is going to be
happy, but for us as a team maybe not him as a person. The game
against Scotland last week left a lot to be desired but that approach
tomorrow will be different. As long as you are prepared and we know our
job, I think that will take care of it and we focus on what we've got to
do and trust the process. We have looked at it during the week and try
to revise and we are in a good place, but it is International Rugby
Board you have to go out there. So all eyes will be on the team
sheet tomorrow, hoping for the best of news.
Next to one of the most romantic and remarkable
Their camogs are in an All-Ireland final, their hurlers
and footballers are also one match away from an all-Ireland final.
They are of course Slaughtneil, who tomorrow take
on Dubiln and Leinster champions St Vincents in the club
One tiny club, one total community effort, the efforts for Slaughtneil
up almost as monumental as the mountains around and between these
played people. The next challenge is to be the best that the metropolis
of Dublin has to offer. Massive challenge ahead, we are under no
illusions how tough it will be, bringing huge physicality to the
game, they are fairly similar to Dublin seniors, it is going to be a
massive battle for us. There are three strands to this story. The
dream is Croke Park on St Patrick's Day. It has been so positive, not
just because of one, but because of the together. -- because of all
three together. We have to embrace that and continue. And now for the
next and final chapter. And best of luck to Slaughtneil. And
it has been chilly, what is in store this weekend?
Not getting any warmer unfortunately and pretty chilly already this
evening, temperature dropping close to freezing. If you are heading to
the all-star match this evening, if you have not left, wrap up warm. But
you can watch from the comfort of your own home on BBC Two. -- Ulster.
Tonight we are looking at widespread frost. If you fancy hill walking
this weekend or heading to the moors, there were some flurries of
snow today, so it will be slippery and it will be bitterly cold. Lots
of dry weather this weekend, just have lots of layers on. As I
mentioned, temperatures falling away tonight. Possibly as low as minus
five in parts of the countryside, not everywhere with sharp frost but
frost in many places to start Saturday morning and taking a while
for it to lift but we expect greater skies tomorrow and largely dry. The
frost it gradually coming out of that ground, cold breeze picking up
again, making it feel really better along parts of the East Coast.
Cloudy skies rollback in from the east during the afternoon, so the
best of the sunshine in the West, temperatures no different from
today. In that wind it will feel better. A lot milder in Italy,
temperatures in the low teens for Ireland's next match and you can
hear that live on BBC Radio Ulster if you are not lucky enough to be
going there. Tomorrow night back home, more cloud around, quite
breezy, some patches of snow, frost tomorrow will be more patchy and
Sunday another cold day. Generally dry but some flurries, quite cold,
cloudy and breezy. As we move into the new week, temperatures will
start to pick up. If you don't like the cold, we expect things to
gradually become less cold next week, is still quite breezy, dry
start, some sunshine, hopefully double figures by the middle of the
week. Cecilia, thank you. You have been
warned, wrap up warm.