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Godfather refused bail to attend nephew's christening

By Ashleigh McDonald

A Belfast man facing charges arising from a stabbing in the west of the city was refused bail on Wednesday to attend his nephew's christening in the role of Godfather.

In application for compassionate bail made on behalf of Gareth Donnan to allow him to attend the church service and stand for his nephew as Godfather was refused after a Crown Court judge was informed of multiple breaches after he was granted bail last summer.

Barrister Luke Curran, acting on behalf of Donnan, asked that his client be granted compassionate bail for several hours this Sunday to allow him both to attend the religious service in Whiterock and family meal in licenced premises after the christening.

Mr Curran told Belfast Crown Court that while he acknowledged there were breaches of bail the last time Donnan was granted full bail, he was granted compassionate bail earlier this year to allow him to visit his daughter in hospital.

Pointing out there were "absolutely no difficulties" regarding that compassionate bail, Mr Curran urged Judge McCaffrey to grant bail this weekend to allow Donnan - whose address was given as formerly of Harrowgate Street - to fulfil his role as Godfather to his brother's son.

The application was opposed by the Crown, with a prosecutor revealing that when Donnan was granted full bail last summer, there were several breaches.

The prosecutor also revealed that Donnan is due to be arraigned next week on five charges arising from an incident in west Belfast last April, during which a 51-year old man was stabbed. The charges Donnan faces including wounding with intent and possessing both a hammer and a pair of scissors with intent to commit grievous bodily harm.

Branding last year's incident as "nasty", the prosecutor said there was a "break-in at a house where a stabbing took place, and there were weapons present".

He also spoke of a series of breaches of bail which occurred after Donnan was released on High Court bail last summer.

The court was told that when bail was granted last June, a number of stringent conditions were put in place. These including Donnan living with his father at Harrowgate Street, observing a 9pm to 9am curfew, reporting to police three times a week and having no contact with either the injured party or any of his family.

Outlining the Crown's opposition to bail, the prosecuting barrister said Donnan's multiple breaches included:

  • Leaving his bail address on August 16 last year and never returning
  • Contacting the injured party's daughter in November 2016
  • Breaching his curfew on four occasions over a ten-day period last August
  • Failing to sign with police from August 24 last year, onwards.

The prosecutor also revealed Donnan "came into the hands of police as a result of further offending last November ... that led to him being remanded in custody".

The prosecutor concluded by telling the Judge that while the Crown acknowledged there were no incidents when Donnan was granted bail to visit his daughter in hospital, this application was opposed.

"It's up to how much confidence the courts can have, given that series of events," he said.

After listening to submissions from both the Crown and defence, Judge McCaffrey said that while she might have been inclined to this application based on his compliance during the last compassionate bail, she was refusing it due to the "saga in relation to the previous breaches".

Judge McCaffrey added: "I am afraid he is going to have to get a proxy to stand in his place as far as the Godfather role is concerned."

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