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Accused in knife murder bid on three people blamed cannabis addiction, trial told

By Michael Donnelly

Published 16/06/2015

Craig Binnie is accused of frenzied attack on number of people
Craig Binnie is accused of frenzied attack on number of people
Police at the scene of the multiple stabbing incident in Ballyduff in Newtownabbey

A man accused of trying to murder his partner and her mother by stabbing them as they lay on the floor before turning the knife on himself blamed cannabis withdrawal symptoms afterwards, a court has heard.

Craig Binnie from Tynan Drive, Newtownabbey, is accused of attempting to murder the two women and a neighbour, Samuel Gaynor, in 2013 before he was found with the black handle of a knife sticking out of his abdomen.

The 42-year-old denies the charges of attempted murder, as well as charges of wounding a total of five people.

Prosecution lawyer David Russell told a Belfast Crown Court jury yesterday that on December 30, 2013, Binnie and his partner Angela Bell went to visit her mother Nancy McDowell in her Ballyduff Gardens home in Newtownabbey.

Already in his house was a friend, Lisa Donaghy, and her young son.

They were sitting chatting together when Binnie went to the kitchen, followed by Ms Bell, who went looking for him. She found him by the side of the house, heading towards the back door, and while she spoke to him, he didn't answer.

Mr Russell said Ms Bell returned to the living room, when Binnie appeared with a black-handled kitchen knife in one hand and an orange-handled knife in the other.

As his partner and Ms Donaghy approached him, Binnie launched an attack on them.

The court heard that while an injured Ms Donaghy fled with her young son, Binnie continued with his attack on Angela as she lay on the floor.

Mr Russell said Ms Bell's mother Nancy McDowell attempted to intervene, but slipped and also fell to the floor, where she too was attacked, before Binnie returned to resume his assault on Angela.

Ms Bell, who later had to undergo emergency surgery, was able to escape to a neighbour's home and raised the alarm.

Mr Russell said having stabbed Ms Bell, "he then turned his attention to her mother and stabbed her while she was prone on the ground unable to defend herself".

She too managed to escape and alerted her next door neighbour, Samuel Gaynor. Binnie immediately ran at him, stabbing him repeatedly, knocking him to the ground, "where he again sought to press home his attack... striking at him continually".

However, having disarmed Binnie, he too was able to flee, despite multiple stab wounds to his chest, both legs and arms.

Mr Russell told the jury the "nature and severity and continuance" of the attacks on Ms Bell, her mother and Mr Gaynor was such that it would "allow you to come to the conclusion that his intention was to kill those he attacked in that fashion".

The court heard that Ms Bell's brother Robert McDowell, who lived nearby, went to his mother's where he found Binnie lying on the kitchen floor, with the black handle of a knife sticking out of his abdomen.

In a statement Binnie said: "I have recently come off cannabis and drink following a four-year dependency during which I was smoking large quantities daily.

"I was going through severe withdrawal symptoms including paranoia. I can't explain my behaviour and the incident was in no way premeditated. On the day, and at the time in question, I thought my life was in imminent danger and I was experiencing suicidal thoughts."

The trial continues today.

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