Belfast clubbers stabbed ‘at random’ by a gang, court is told
Three men were randomly stabbed with a screwdriver after leaving a Belfast city centre nightclub, the High Court has heard.
Prosecutors alleged scalpels were also passed around by a group of youths before the attacks were carried out.
One of the victims was stabbed in the forehead and four times in the back as violence flared outside Rain nightclub in Tomb Street earlier this month. Crown counsel Kate McKay said he needed nine stitches for a gash running from the hairline to just above his eye.
Details were disclosed as a 23-year-old man accused of being the ringleader was granted bail but banned from the area.
Stephen McIlhone, of Little George’s Street, Belfast, faces three counts of causing grievous bodily harm with intent over attacks carried out at around 3am on August 2.
Mrs McKay said a witness claimed the accused was among up to eight people dressed in trainers and hoodies outside the club.
It was alleged that McIlhone was seen handing a screwdriver and two scalpels around to others he was with.
According to the prosecution, one of the victims was stabbed in the back after trying to break up a separate altercation. Separate stabbing were then carried out on two others, the court heard.
Mrs McKay said: “Witnesses will state they heard the group shout “F***ing stab him, f***ing stab him”.
She added: “It appears three men who had left Rain nightclub at different times were random victims of this group of people armed with these weapons — a screwdriver and scalpels, which luckily don't appear to have been used.
“This was a completely unprovoked attack on young men trying to make their way home after a night out.”
Defence barrister Gavin Duffy said McIlhone strenuously denied any involvement in planning or carrying out the stabbings.
Mr Duffy stressed that the Crown had not alleged his client inflicted the injuries, and pointed out that he was not arrested until 10 days later.
After hearing both sides Mr Justice McCloskey remarked: “This was an appalling attack on certain members of the public in an area where there is entertainment available at night in a well-known city centre area.”
The judge granted bail in what he described as a borderline case, but ordered McIlhone to be curfewed and electronically tagged.
He also directed him to report to police twice a week, imposed an alcohol ban and said he was excluded from entering Tomb Street.