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Man is jailed over fatal Bangor stabbing: Heroin addict with 81 previous convictions handed seven-year prison term

By Ashleigh McDonald

Published 19/09/2015

The house at Ballyholme Road in Bangor where Stephen Davidson was found stabbed to death
The house at Ballyholme Road in Bangor where Stephen Davidson was found stabbed to death
Stephen Davidson

A heroin addict who stabbed another man to death at a house in Bangor has been handed a seven-year prison sentence.

Paul Stephen Bustard, who is originally from Bangor but whose address was given as Bush Park in Antrim, admitted the manslaughter of Stephen Liam Davidson in the early hours of Sunday, February 10, 2013.

Bustard - who was described in court as a dangerous offender with 81 previous convictions including offences for violence - was excused from appearing in the dock, resulting in Mr Justice Maguire passing the sentence in his absence.

Mr Davidson's lifeless body was found in the living room of his Ballyholme Road home by his mother at around 4.45pm on February 10, 2013. She called to his home and made the shocking discovery after trying to get in touch with him earlier that day.

The 31-year-old died of two stab wounds to the chest which penetrated his heart. He also suffered a number of other injuries to his face and body.

In his sentencing remarks, Mr Justice Maguire spoke of the "horrendous" impact the death of her only child has had on the victim's mother.

The judge also spoke of a number of aggravating factors, including Bustard's previous violent convictions, the fact he sought no help for Mr Davidson after the stabbing and the Probation Board's assessment that Bustard was a significant risk to the public.

As well as handing Bustard a seven-year prison sentence, Mr Justice Maguire also imposed an extended period of four years on licence upon the 42-year-old's release.

The court heard that the men had "a history of illicit drug use" and were both prescribed methadone for their heroin addictions.

Bustard claimed he stabbed Mr Davidson in self-defence as he was attacked with a knife and hit on the head with a dumbell, but the Crown said it was impossible to determine exactly what happened due to the "inconsistencies" given by Bustard.

Mr McDowell said that in the wake of the stabbing and over the course of Sunday and Monday, February 10-11, Bustard "made efforts" to keep away from the police.

During this time, two other people - Bustard's mother, Olwyn, and his friend James Gawn - were implicated in the incident and appeared in the dock during yesterday's sentencing.

They were both given suspended sentences by Mr Justice Maguire.

Mrs Bustard (63), from Rugby Avenue in Bangor, pleaded guilty to a charge of assisting an offender. She admitted sending a text message to her son on February 11, 2013 advising him to switch his phone off as police were seeking him, after officers called to her home.

Gawn (51) from High Street in Bangor, was charged with withholding information about the fatal incident.

Gawn pleaded guilty to failing to provide information to police on a date between February 9 and 12, 2013, as he offered to let Bustard stay in his flat.

Defence barrister John McCrudden QC, acting on behalf of Bustard, said the basis of his client's guilty plea to manslaughter was that he was acting in self-defence, which "passed the line in an unintended injury which caused the death of Mr Davidson".

The barrister said: "I have been specifically instructed by Mr Bustard to make a complete and unqualified apology to the family, the relatives and the friends of the deceased, Mr Davidson."

He added that his client had admitted stabbing Mr Davidson from the outset, "didn't try to avoid" responsibility, and said the fatal stabbing "occurred in the throes of an attack" on him. He also pointed out that Bustard was treated for "very serious injuries" following his arrest.

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