Belfast Telegraph

Coleraine man 'lucky' he did not kill a man he stabbed with a makeshift 'Zulu spear'

By Nevin Farrell

A Coleraine man has been told by a judge he is lucky he did not kill a man he stabbed with a makeshift "Zulu spear" following an incident which began in the grounds of a Catholic Church in the town.

A defence QC claimed Nathan Robert McIntyre had the spear made for him by a friend because his nickname was 'Swahili'.

McIntyre (20), formerly of Weavers Court, who admitted a number of charges, told police he believed was "descended from a tribe".

Prosecutor Tessa Kitson told Antrim Crown Court on Tuesday, that on Friday June 24 last year a number of individuals were attending a church hall at St John's Church, in the Heights area of Coleraine, and after hearing a commotion outside they saw a male, who turned out to be McIntyre, in the vicinity of a car which had its wing mirror damaged.

McIntyre shouted abuse and was threatening to start a fight but left. Before police arrived, he returned and ran through a graveyard and ran at the group, lashing out and trying to punch a man. He said he was "going to kill them" and ran towards nearby Weavers Court.

Ms Kitson said the defendant was followed to Weavers Court by men who wanted to ask him what he was doing.  McIntyre then emerged with a kitchen knife on a long pole which was described by Judge Desmond Marrinan as a "makeshift spear".

The prosecutor said McIntyre advanced towards one of the men, threatening to kill him. As the man turned to run to get away, he was stabbed in the back and left with a wound which was seven centimetres deep.

The injured man was taken to hospital but was discharged and made a full recovery. Medics said it was very lucky vital organs were not struck.

Ms Kitson said McIntyre had previously personally apologised to the victim in open court and the victim said he would like the defendant to be given assistance.

She said the defendant was suffering from mental health problems.

Ms Kitson stated that McIntyre said he had been given the spear and believed he had "descended from a tribe".

McIntyre, who had 59 previous convictions, had been on remand in jail on the charges for a year.

Defence QC Kieran Mallon said McInytre's nickname was 'Swahili' and the defendant made reference to it on his Facebook. He had been attending his GP for "paranoia".

Mr Mallon said the defendant did not make the improvised spear but instead was given it because of his nickname.

Judge Marrinan said it was "like something you would see in the film 'Zulu'."

Mr Mallon said on the day in question McIntyre had downed Buckfast.

He was "ashamed" of what happened and the fact he joined an organ donation scheme showed a "level of compassion".

The judge said McIntyre has been receiving ongoing treatment and was not assessed in a report as dangerous but he said that must have been "on the cusp" as the victim "could have died".

Judge Marrinan told McIntyre it was fortunate by "the Grace of God or blind luck" a vital organ was not struck after a seven centimetre wound was caused.

McIntyre pleaded guilty to charges of attempting to maliciously wound the victim with intent to do him grievous bodily harm; making threats to kill the man; assault on another man and causing criminal damage to a car wing mirror.

The judge said he gave credit for the guilty plea and the remorse shown and said the defendant was probably under the influence of "substances and drugs" and may have panicked when individuals had followed him.

Judge Marrinan said the group had been attending a meeting in a church hall and they were entitled to remonstrate with McIntyre.

The judge said whoever gave the defendant the "terrifying weapon" was "not a friend".

He said he also took into account the reaction of the victims, especially the stab victim who asked for McIntyre to be given "supervision and guidance".

The judge said the defendant had spent the equivalent of two years in prison on remand as he imposed a three year sentence made up of one year in custody and two years on licence.

He told McIntyre: "When you are on licenc,e there is really no second chance. If you get into trouble over the next two years, the Parole Commission can direct you are returned to custody for the full term".

The judge also made a destruction order for what he described as a "Zulu spear".

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