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Cannabis addict admits wounding five in knife frenzy

By Michael Donnelly

Published 17/06/2015

Craig Binnie said that he thought his life was at risk at the time of the attack in December 2013
Craig Binnie said that he thought his life was at risk at the time of the attack in December 2013

A man who blamed cannabis withdrawal symptoms for a frenzied knife attack on family and friends has pleaded guilty to unlawful and malicious wounding.

Craig Binnie (42), from Tynan Drive, Newtownabbey, went on trial at Belfast Crown Court accused of attempting to murder his partner, her mother and a neighbour, as well as stabbing two other people, 18 months ago.

But yesterday the attempted murder charges were dropped after the defendant pleaded guilty to wounding with intent to cause GBH on December 30, 2013.

Binnie, who is being held in a secure unit of the Shannon Clinic at Knockbracken in south Belfast, will be sentenced in August.

The attack involved his partner Angela Bell, her mother Nancy McDowell, her son Robert McDowell, neighbour Samuel Gaynor and family friend Lisa Donaghy.

The start of his trial had heard he stabbed his victims in a "determined, ferocious" attack before turning the blade on himself.

As he later lay recovering in hospital, Binnie blamed the incident on his withdrawal from four years of abusing alcohol and smoking cannabis.

The court had heard that Binnie, who had armed himself with two kitchen knives, attacked Ms Bell as she paid a visit to her mother at her home in Newtownabbey.

As he did so, family friend Ms Donaghy approached him, and Binnie struck out at her.

Fearing for her young son, she fled the house while Binnie continued to attack Ms Bell on the floor.

Her mother, Mrs McDowell, attempted to intervene, but slipped and fell to the floor, where she too was attacked. Ms Bell, who needed surgery, was eventually able to escape and raise the alarm.

Mrs McDowell also managed to escape and contact next-door neighbour Mr Gaynor, who Binnie also attacked. The neighbour was able to disarm him and escape with multiple wounds.

Angela's brother Robert later found the defendant with a knife in his abdomen and asked him:"What have you done?" But Binnie gave no reply, and instead tried to stab himself again. Then, as Mr McDowell leaned forward, Binnie turned the knife on him and stabbed his leg.

After he was arrested the defendant initially refused to answer police questions. But he later presented a written statement he had dictated to his solicitor.

In it he claimed: "At no stage did I intend to kill anyone or cause serious injury. I suffer from serious mental health problems and in the past, and including the incident in question, I have attempted to take my own life.

"I have come off cannabis and drink following a four-year dependency. I was going through severe withdrawal symptoms including paranoia. The incident was in no way premeditated. I thought my life was in imminent danger. I regret my actions."

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