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Bail refused for man accused of attempting to stab teen to death

By Alan Erwin

Published 25/07/2016

While denying bail the judge warned of further delays in the case.
While denying bail the judge warned of further delays in the case.

A man accused of trying to stab a teenager to death must remain in custody, a High Court judge ruled on Monday.

Leo Benson, 27, was refused bail on a charge of attempted murder over an alleged knife attack in west Belfast last November.

Despite his concern about delays in the case, Mr Justice Horner cited the risks of re-offending and interference with a witness.

Benson, of Ross Street in the city, and a 17-year-old youth are jointly charged with targeting the 18-year-old victim on the Cullingtree Road area.

He underwent emergency surgery for serious injuries allegedly inflicted at the time.

Prosecution counsel Michael Chambers said he has since claimed the accused launched their attack on him following an argument while they were all out drinking.

A neighbour also told police he saw the victim being knocked to the ground and kicked about the head and body in the early hours of November 1, the court heard.

Leo Benson then produced a knife and stabbed him three to four times in the back area, it was alleged.

The witness woke his mother before a 999 call was made, according to Mr Chambers.

He argued that a strong prima facie case has been established against Benson.

"This applicant is alleged to have been the knifeman," the prosecutor added.

Defence counsel challenged the consistency of the witness accounts, claiming that in one his client was not named.

"There are deficiencies with the identification and recognition evidence," the barrister contended.

He also urged the judge to release Benson due to slow progress in the case.

Although the application was denied, Mr Justice Horner warned: "If further delay continues then a court may well conclude that the balance has shifted in favour of granting bail."

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