Paddy Doherty attends a protest in court for fellow traveler Joe Joyce who is awaiting his murder conviction

TV personality Paddy Doherty attended a show of support outside Laganside Courts yesterday for fellow traveler Joe Joyce.

Joyce appeared at Belfast Crown Court via video link to Maghaberry where he was told he would be sentenced on five counts – including murder – at the end of this month.

The 32-year-old was sentenced to life in June after being found guilty by a jury of murdering John Paul McDonagh.

Mr McDonagh (18) suffered a fatal lower leg injury in a street battle outside Joyce’s home in Ennskillen in April 2020.

Joyce argued he was acting in self-defense and protecting himself, his family and his home of Coolcullen Meadow from an attack by the three brothers, who were armed with a knife, a bottle and a spade of garden.

However, the jury rejected Joyce’s claims and found him guilty of murdering Mr McDonagh with a slash hook.

He was back in court yesterday, via video link to Maghaberry, where it emerged that a tariff hearing will be held on September 30 to determine how long he will serve in prison.

Ahead of the hearing, a crowd of around 200 people gathered outside the court in support of Joyce and her appeal against the conviction, which has been formally filed.

Wearing t-shirts and carrying banners reading ‘Justice for Joe’, supporters included Joyce’s parents Joe and Alice, his wife Ellen and their three children, and Paddy Doherty.

The high-profile traveler, who has appeared on reality TV shows such as Celebrity Big Brother and My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, backed Joyce’s call.

He said: “What happened was a terrible, terrible, terrible tragedy. There’s no point in saying it wasn’t because it was.

“I didn’t know the other young man, God rest his soul, but I do know Joe.

“What happened was manslaughter, not murder. Murder is on another level. What he did that day, he was protecting himself, his home, his pregnant wife and his children.

“It blew out of proportion. It snowballed, but what’s happening now is just plain wrong.”

Mr Doherty also revealed he supported the appeal and said: “It’s a terrible thing that happened and I’m so sorry for the young boy but Joe didn’t mean to kill anyone. I didn’t never seen Joe with a gun before in my life.”

A relative also traveled from England to support Joyce.

Paul Joyce, a cousin of the accused, said:

“A young boy lost his life but at the same time Joe doesn’t deserve to go to jail for the rest of his life for acting in self defence.”

Joyce will be sentenced on Friday September 30 for murdering Mr McDonagh, wounding his brother Gerard, possessing two murder weapons – namely the slash hook and an ammonia bottle – and instigating a fight.

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