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Man 'tried to kill his neighbour with a hatchet' in row about paint being poured over a car, court hears

By Alan Erwin

Published 16/10/2015

The scene in Herbert Street, Ardoyne. Pic Kevin Scott/Belfast Telegraph
The scene in Herbert Street, Ardoyne. Pic Kevin Scott/Belfast Telegraph

A man allegedly tried to kill his neighbour with a hatchet in a row about paint being poured over a car, a court heard today.

Gerard Stitt, 23, is accused of inflicting some of the injuries sustained by Daniel McFarland during an outbreak of violence in north Belfast.

Police said a second man is also suspected of driving a car at Mr McFarland during the same incident on Herbert Street early on Thursday morning.

Stitt, of nearby Butler Place, appeared before magistrates in the city charged with attempted murder and possession of an offensive weapon in public.

Bail was granted after his lawyer claimed he acted in self-defence.

According to an investigating detective the alleged attack was part of an escalating neighbourhood dispute linked to a previous stone-throwing incident.

It was claimed that Stitt went out to confront Mr McFarland after seeing someone pour paint over his brother's car.

The court heard the alleged victim was carrying a hatchet and knife.

Stitt was hit in the shoulder area before witnesses claimed he took the axe and struck back, the detective said.

At that stage the car was said to have been driven at Mr McFarland.

He suffered a broken ankle and required staples in a head wound as well as cuts to his face and arm.

Opposing Stitt's release, the officer claimed the situation could worsen and threaten the safety of both families and the general public. Defence counsel described the accused as a quiet, unassuming individual who spends his time playing computer games.

He claimed Stitt was chased and attacked first after going out to investigate the paint incident.

The hatchet was allegedly thrown at the defendant, hitting him in the back, the court heard.

"He secured that hatchet and Mr McFarland sought to attack him with a knife. At that point he was compelled to act in self-defence," the barrister said.

District Judge Peter King granted bail after being told Stitt can live at an address well away from the area.

He banned the accused from either entering Herbert Street or contacting the alleged victim or any witnesses.

Stitt must also abide by curfew and electronic monitoring conditions.

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