Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Chef fights for life after Christmas party attack

The scene outside the Corner House Bar in Cloughmills after a man was assaulted in the early hours of Monday

A man is in a critical condition following a single punch attack after a Christmas party in Northern Ireland

It is understood that the man, named locally as Steven Gage (34), fell during the attack in the early hours of Monday morning and hit his head on the ground.

A 26-year-old man was arrested yesterday afternoon in the Coleraine area in connection with the attack and is currently helping police with their inquiries. The 34-year-old victim was transferred from Antrim Area Hospital to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast where he is receiving treatment for his serious injuries.

It is believed Mr Gage left the Millside restaurant in Cloughmills where he works as a chef and went to the Corner House Bar in the Main Street area of the village on Sunday evening for a Christmas party.

Mr Gage and his family are well-known in the Co Antrim village and he has lived there all his life.

It is understood he remained in the bar for a few hours before leaving in the early hours.

Local workers said that the weather that evening was very icy and they described the ground as being slippery.

The incident happened shortly after 2.30am yesterday on Main Street close to its junction with Loughill Road and Drumdoon Road, and was reported to the PSNI at 2.40am.

Following the attack police investigating the assault closed four roads including Main Street, Loughill Road, Drumadoon Road and Culcrum Road for several hours. They were all reopened yesterday afternoon.

Corner House Bar owner Tony said the community will help support Mr Gage in his recovery.

He said: "I feel sorry because it's an awful time of year for that to happen to anyone.

"As far as I know it was a Christmas party and I hope that everything goes well for him and that he pulls through it. And if there is anything that we can do here in the community to support them, we will be doing it."

The mayor of Ballymoney, DUP councillor John Finlay, said: "It's a complete tragedy.

"My thoughts and prayers are with the young fellow who is seriously ill because it's a tragedy that no one wanted to happen.

"It's a tragedy at any time of the year, but in this Christmas season it's especially bad.

"My heart goes out to both families involved because I could not even begin to imagine what the families are going through."

Detectives are appealing for anyone who witnessed the assault or anyone with any information about the incident to contact CID on 08456008000 or anonymously on 0800555111.

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