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Brothers jailed over near-fatal stabbing

By Ashleigh McDonald

Published 17/12/2015

Jailed: Jim McCormick
Jailed: Jim McCormick
Jailed: Hugh McCormick

Two brothers have been jailed for attempting to murder the former brother-in-law of one of them in a "vicious, unprovoked, cowardly attack". Joseph Henry almost died in the attack outside his home in Belfast's Markets area in June 2011.

Hugh James McCormick (50) of Rosevale Street in Belfast and his brother James Martin McCormick (46) of Teeling Avenue, Dunmurry, denied the offence, but were found unanimously guilty by a jury earlier this year of the knife and crowbar attack.

Hugh McCormick - who has a previous conviction for a knife attack - was sentenced to 15-and-a-half-years, and James McCormick - who has four children with one of Mr Henry's sisters - was given a 14-and-a-half year sentence.

They will serve half the term in prison, with the rest on supervised licence upon release from jail.

During yesterday's sentencing at Belfast Crown Court, Mr Justice Colton said that the continual denial of involvement by the brothers demonstrated both a lack of remorse and a lack of responsibility for their behaviour.

The judge added: "It is particularly chilling that the defendants carried out this assault in broad daylight, on a person whom they knew, and at a place where the other occupants in the house also knew them. It appears that they felt they could carry out such an assault immune from being held accountable for their crime."

Mr Justice Colton also said that he regarded both men as being "equally involved and equally to blame".

Mr Henry, who did not attend the proceedings, almost died from a serious stab wound to his neck.

During the trial, which was held at Belfast Crown Court in September, the jury heard Mr Henry was hit over the head with a crowbar and stabbed in the neck by the McCormick brothers, who arrived at his house looking for a relative.

Mr Henry told the jury he was attacked outside his Eliza Street Terrace home at 8am on July 2, 2011 as he stood having a cigarette.

The victim said Hugh McCormick hit him on the head with a crowbar while James McCormick produced a 12-inch knife which he stuck in Mr Henry's neck.

Mr Henry lost two litres of blood, needed a blood transfusion and was in hospital for a period of three weeks.

Branding the injuries "life threatening", Mr Justice Colgan paid tribute to both Mr Henry's resolve, and the work undertaken and care given by the medics who looked after him.

Speaking after the sentences were passed, Detective Inspector Mary White from the PSNI's Reactive and Organised Crime Branch, said: "Knife crime is unacceptable. Many people think it is acceptable to carry a knife. They are wrong.

"Today's sentences demonstrate the courts will not tolerate knife crime and that there are serious consequences, not only for victims, but also for perpetrators."

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