Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Man 'doused in petrol and beaten with hammers at bonfire site'

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A man was doused in petrol and beaten with hammers and baseball bats after being lured to a bonfire site in Belfast, the High Court heard today.

Up to 15 men attacked him and tried to drag him out of a car which was then set alight, prosecutors said.

It was claimed that the victim fled as the crowd continued to reign blows on him.

Details emerged as bail was granted to one of those accused of carrying out the attack on June 21.

Jake O'Reilly (23) of Ballycairn Close, Belfast, denies charges of causing grievous bodily harm and arson endangering life.

Kate McKay, prosecuting, said the victim had arranged to meet O'Reilly to get back money he had lent out.

He was told to go to the bonfire area on the Milltown Road in Belvoir, where a further telephone call directed him to a nearby cul-de sac, the court heard.

Around 15 men then allegedly emerged from a forest and ran towards him carrying weapons.

The windows of his courtesy car were smashed and attempts made to pull him out, according to Mrs McKay.

Petrol was poured over the vehicle and the victim, who claimed he heard one attacker shouting: "We will burn you in the car."

Mrs McKay added: "He ran down the Milltown Road, chased and attacked on the head, back and shoulders with hammers and baseball bats."

Multiple bruises and lacerations were inflicted to his upper body, the court was told.

He was also left suffering from blurred vision, a suspected fractured cheekbone and a head wound which required two staples.

The car had been set on fire and left totally gutted.

Mrs McKay said police remain uncertain about a motive for the attack which she claimed could have had even worse consequences.

"(The victim) had petrol on him; if a stray spark had ignited in him we could be looking at a more serious matter," she said.

O'Reilly has provided a number of alibi witnesses to back his case that he was not involved.

His barrister argued it was a case of mistaken identity, with his client denying owing any money to the injured man.

"The applicant is astounded that he has been accused of such serious allegations," he said.

Bail was granted on the basis that police and the prosecution were not opposing O'Reilly's release to live well away from the victim.

Mr Justice Treacy banned him from having any contact and imposed a curfew and electronic monitoring.

He warned the accused: "If there is any negative contact by anybody with the injured party that may have implications for this applicant on bail."

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