A man accused of killing former Portadown footballer David Mills in a brawl has been cleared of murder after a mid-trial admission of manslaughter.
John Foster, who is 31, denied murdering Mills after inflicting up to 13 punches in an assault in Ballynahinch town centre in the early hours of 30 September last year.
Mr Mills, who was 47, was left with multiple and fatal head injuries, but the defence argued Foster, of Newcastle’s Corrigs Road, was acting in self-defence after Mr Mills provoked a fight.
At Downpatrick Crown Court on Tuesday the jury was informed a count of manslaughter was being added to the bill of indictment.
An emotional John Foster then pleaded guilty as the new charge was read out.
Following this admission the prosecution said it would be offering no further evidence on the murder charge and Mr Justice Burgess directed the jury to find Foster not guilty on this count.
On Monday Mr Justice Burgess told the prosecution and defence, in the absence of the jury, he was considering adding a charge of manslaughter to the charge sheet, and agreement appears to have been reached between the parties that evening.
The hearing was adjourned for sentencing reports, which the judge said would take into account victim impact statements and Foster’s previous record, which was not outlined to the court.
Foster remains on bail in advance of sentencing on January 24. Electronically tagged, he is ordered to have no contact with the Mills family.