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Man accused of trying to kill love rival 'had machete to protect himself in loyalist area'

Published 29/07/2015

Tomas Foster was refused bail after being shown Facebook photos of Foster brandishing a similar blade
Tomas Foster was refused bail after being shown Facebook photos of Foster brandishing a similar blade

A Catholic man accused of trying to kill a love rival with a machete at a south Belfast woman's home claims he had the weapon for self-protection, the High Court heard on Wednesday.

Tomas Foster is charged with attempting to murder Richard Templeton after finding him in the house off the Donegall Road on July 17.

The 28-year-old's lawyer argued that he only had the weapon because he was entering a loyalist area at a time of heightened tensions.

But a judge refused bail after being shown Facebook photos of Foster brandishing a similar blade.

Referring to the alleged incident, Mr Justice Maguire said: "It leaves the court somewhat cold the notion that among our community there are people who equip themselves with a machete."

Foster, of Albertbridge Road in Belfast, is further accused of threats to kill and possession of an offensive weapon with intent.

All the charges relate to an alleged late night confrontation at the house on Rydalmere Street.

Prosecution counsel Michael Chambers said police were flagged down outside by Mr Templeton.

The alleged victim was carrying the machete which he claimed Foster had tried to kill him with.

Mr Templeton said he had been at the woman's home to help her fill out housing forms.

He told police they were previously romantically linked, although she insisted they were never anything but friends.

According to the prosecution Foster burst through the door carrying the machete, shouted "F******* Richard", head-butted Mr Templeton and tried to stab him.

A struggle broke out before the accused slipped on spilled wine and dropped the weapon, the court heard.

Mr Chambers continued: "At that point the injured party lifted it and ran out of the house, he described it as he ran for his life."

Foster left too before allegedly sent a string of abusive text messages to the woman.

Opposing bail, the prosecutor claimed there was a risk of further offences.

He said: "The back story seems to be this applicant is infatuated with this lady.

"He perceived that Mr Templeton was obviously a love rival that has come round and behaved in the way he did because of that irrational jealousy.

"Both of the complainants are terrified if he's admitted to bail he might attack them in the future."

A Facebook image of Foster holding a machete was shown, along with an accompanying comment by another poster describing the accused as "a modern day f****** swordmaster".

However, Kelly Doherty, defending, insisted her client was only armed because he was venturing into a Protestant/loyalist area that night to see the woman he was in a relationship with.

They had arranged to meet at his home in a Catholic neighbourhood but she failed to show, the court heard.

Foster then took a taxi over to her house, allegedly bringing the weapon for his own safety.

"He was going into a Protestant/loyalist area in July when tensions were heightened," Ms Doherty said.

"There had been various threats made on social media with respect to Catholics if they were found in loyalist areas."

The woman had been told her home was under surveillance, it was claimed.

"He arrived at her address, goes into the house and finds (the woman) and Mr Templeton in an embrace," defence counsel added.

"He takes the machete out which had been down his shorts and says he throws it on the ground, grabs Mr Templeton and throws him onto the sofa."

His account also describes the alleged victim fleeing with the weapon after he slipped.

Referring to the pictures on social media, Ms Doherty contended: "Having an interest in weapons and putting photographs on Facebook, they are not criminal offences."

But Mr Justice Maguire described the images as "quite alarming".

Denying bail, he cited the twin risks of re-offending and interfering with witnesses.

The judge said: "This is the very type of incident which gives rise to extremely strong emotions."

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