Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Court refuses bail for Lagan towpath race attack accused

Thomas Finn was refused bail at Lisburn Magistrates Court

An Armagh man accused of a "xenophobic" racist attack has been refused bail by a court after the judge said the risk of him reoffending if he was released was too great.

Remanding 22-year-old Thomas David Finn back into custody at Lisburn Magistrates Court, District Judge Alan White said there was also a risk that the accused "won't comply with bail conditions never mind the fact that he doesn't have an address at the moment".

Finn, from Linen Court, off Linenhall Street in Armagh, is charged with inflicting actual bodily harm on Tonderai Msonza, threatening to kill him, possessing a stick with intent to inflict actual bodily harm, and using behaviour intending or likely to stir up hatred. He is also charged with assaulting a police constable.

The court heard that all the offences are alleged to have occurred on May 24 this year.

Mr Msonza was targeted as he was walking along the Lagan towpath in Lisburn when three males approached, shouting racist obscenities before attacking him.

Mr Msonza was punched a number of times in the head before he escaped from his attackers and sought refuge in a licensed premises in the Bridge Street area of the city. From there he was taken to hospital to receive treatment for non-life-threatening injuries.

A police constable told the court that given the offences included "an element of hate crime, there is no reason why he could not be involved in another incident like this considering he has 21 previous convictions for assault and other convictions for riot and disorderly behaviour".

Defence lawyer Con O'Neill said Finn was "on the waiting list" for a hostel place and added that as he had already spent two months in custody, "it won't be long before the contest in this case will be academic".

District Judge White refused the application and ordered Finn to appear again on 1 September by video-link.

The case of Finn's co-accused, 18-year-old Scott McKeown, from Hill Street in Lisburn, who faces similar charges to those of Finn, was also adjourned to the same date, but he was released on continuing bail.

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