Belfast Telegraph

Judge to study CCTV before considering bail for man accused of murder bid

A High Court judge is to study CCTV footage before deciding whether to release a man accused of trying to stab a teenager to death.

Johnny Houston denies having a knife he is alleged to have plunged into the victim's chest during a fight in Newry, Co Down.

Adjourning the accused's application for bail, Mr Justice Burgess said he wanted to see footage from the scene.

The judge stressed: "If there is a knife I can assure you I would have grave concerns over and above what I already have."

Houston, 24, of Mary Street, Newry, faces charges of attempted murder and possession of a blade in public.

He rejects the allegations and claims to have acted in self-defence after being attacked with a brush shaft.

The victim, a 19-year-old man, was stabbed in the chest, puncturing a lung and narrowly missing his heart, during the incident on September 6.

Witnesses claim he was attacked after confronting Houston about throwing a bottle at his flat in the Edward Street area.

The accused produced a 4-5" blade from his pocket, inflicted the stab wound and then threw it away, according to the prosecution.

Following his arrest Houston made counter-claims about being set upon and beaten with a brush shaft.

Denying any possession of a knife, he told police: "If it had been attempted murder he would be covered in holes."

The stab victim is set to be interviewed by police this week after being moved out of intensive care.

Defence counsel Conn O'Neill insisted there was no suggestion of any feud or grudge.

The barrister said his client had been at a party in the area and returned to get a lighter when neighbours became involved.

"He refutes the suggestion that he's in possession of a knife, Mr O'Neill added.

But Mr Justice Burgess identified the CCTV evidence as potentially central to the allegation against the accused.

Adjourning the hearing until Monday for the footage to be produced, he said: "I would expect it to be done so that it's open justice."

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