Page last updated at 14:36 GMT, Tuesday, 7 April 2009 15:36 UK

Bottle killing youth sent to jail

Emma O'Kane
Ms O'Kane died after a shard of glass severed a vein and artery

A teenager who killed a mother-of-three when he threw a bottle into a pub has been jailed for four-and-a-half years.

Neil McNulty, 19, from Heywood, Greater Manchester, was refused entry by door staff at the town's Queen Anne pub and hurled the bottle through the door.

In an "incredible mishap", a shard of glass flew into the neck of 27-year-old barmaid Emma O'Kane, and she bled to death, Manchester Crown Court heard.

Speaking outside court, her family labelled the sentence "a joke".

McNulty, of Peel Lane, admitted manslaughter at an earlier hearing.

Judge Michael Henshell told him he would live with the pain of what he did for the rest of his life.

Neil McNulty is a thug and the justice system in this country is absolutely appalling
Mandy Shepherd, family member

He said: "Drunken violence... is the background to this awful tragedy and the type of behaviour which, regrettably, is a feature of contemporary urban society.

"I accept your drunken behaviour was completely out of character and you lost your temper to an extraordinary extent."

Ms O'Kane was off duty at the time of the incident, on 27 December last year, as she celebrated the birthday of her partner, Michael Shepherd, 38, whom she planned to marry.

Mr Shepherd battled to save her as she lay bleeding to death.

CCTV images of Neil McNulty throwing a bottle into the Heywood pub

McNulty was also enjoying his own birthday drinks on a night out but became abusive when he and his friends were not allowed inside the pub.

At an earlier hearing, the Crown Prosecution Service accepted his plea of not guilty to murder on the grounds that there was no realistic prospect of securing a conviction on the charge.

But outside court the victim's family and friends criticised the sentence and the court portrayal of McNulty as "a good lad".

Mandy Shepherd, 27, sister of Ms O'Kane's partner, said: "Everybody made out he's really sorry and he is a good lad.

"Well, he isn't a good lad. He has destroyed so many lives. Neil McNulty is a thug and the justice system in this country is absolutely appalling. The sentence is a joke."

Andy Tattersall, from Greater Manchester Police's, said: "This is an example of the fatal mixture of yobbish behaviour and excessive alcohol.

"Heywood is a small community and what he did that night has really damaged the entire community."

A period of 99 days will be deducted from McNulty's prison term for time spent on remand.


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