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Man attacked with machetes and pickaxe handle in 'family feud over marital break-ups', court hears

By Alan Erwin

Published 01/07/2016

A man was attacked with machetes and a pickaxe handle as part of a suspected feud between families over marital break-ups, the High Court heard today.

Five men also brandishing slash hooks, wheel braces and knives targeted the victim in front of his wife outside a house in Banbridge, Co Down last week, a judge was told.

Details emerged as bail was granted to two of those accused of carrying out the attack on broad daylight.

Martin McDonagh, 26, from Oak Grove in the town, faces charges of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, possessing an offensive weapon in public and disorderly behaviour.

John Stokes, 23, of the same address, is accused of criminal damage, disorderly behaviour, possession of an offensive weapon, common assault and theft of car keys.

Prosecution counsel Robin Steer said the victim saw five men run at him as he sat in a car with his wife in the Limewood area on June 20.

He claimed the two accused were among the group. McDonagh allegedly struck the man on the head with a pickaxe handle, while Stokes struck the bonnet and windows of the vehicle with either a machete or slash hook, the court heard.

They were arrested after police received 999 calls from members of the public that men were fighting in the street.

Mr Steer also disclosed that the alleged victims have now withdrawn their statements of complaint, diminishing the prosecution's case for keeping the accused in custody.

Asked to explain what triggered the violence, defence counsel pointed to a feud between two families allegedly linked to the break-up of two marriages.

Stressing McDonagh and Stokes both deny involvement, he added: "Neither of these individuals is related in a very direct way to those whose marriages have disintegrated."

Based on the withdrawal statements, Mr Justice Maguire granted bail to addresses outside Banbridge and ordered them to keep out of the town. He warned: "Persons being attacked by people in possession of a series of weapons such as has been described is something which the courts will not tolerate."

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