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Pre-sentence hearing told murder bid brothers are rated a danger to public

By John Cassidy

Published 12/12/2015

Jim McCormick (left) and his brother Hugh
Jim McCormick (left) and his brother Hugh

Two brothers convicted of the attempted murder of their former brother-in-law have been found to be a "danger to the public".

Hugh James McCormick (50), of Rosevale Street in Belfast, and James Martin McCormick (46), of Teeling Avenue in Dunmurry, were found guilty by a unanimous verdict at their trial in September of trying to kill Joseph Henry at his home in the Markets area of south Belfast on July 2, 2011.

Mr Henry was stabbed outside the front of his house by the McCormick brothers and almost died from a wound to the throat.

Prosecutor Kate McKay told Belfast Crown Court yesterday that both defendants has been assessed as a "medium risk of reoffending".

Trial judge Mr Justice Colton heard that, according to a pre-sentence report, the brothers were also assessed as "posing a significant risk of serious harm and a danger to the public in the future".

Ms McKay told the court that Hugh McCormick had a previous conviction for violence in 2006 when he was convicted of wounding with intent, wounding and affray and received a 42-month sentence for stabbing two doormen.

She said that among the aggravating features was the "planning involved", as the brothers had come to the house looking for another family member.

"Mr Henry was not the intended target," Ms McKay added. "It was a planned attack, not a spontaneous attack. This plan involved the use of a weapon.

"The attack happened in the front garden of his home on a sunny morning while he was having a cigarette where he should have felt safe. It happened in front of his mother and sister."

She added that Mr Henry had suffered "significant psychological" trauma as a result of the attack and was receiving ongoing help from a specialist.

"Mr Henry could have died as a result of the serious injuries he sustained," the lawyer told the court. "It is a matter now for the court to decide whether these two defendants are dangerous or not."

Ms McKay told Mr Justice Colton that it was the prosecution's case, given the seriousness of the offence, that any term of imprisonment imposed on the brothers should be at the "upper end of the sentencing range".

Defence counsel for Hugh McMcCormick, Eilis McDermott QC, told the court that he still denied any involvement in the attempted murder and "does not accept that it was him who was present".

She said her client suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of a number of paramilitary shootings and beatings in his younger years.

The court was told that his previous conviction for wounding with intent was "now of some vintage", and Ms McDermott said before the court could be satisfied that he posed a danger to the public, it had to be established that he posed a "significant risk in the future of serious harm".

Counsel for James Martin McCormick, Ciaran Mallon QC, said that in mitigation there were no relevant convictions. He said his last conviction was in 2007 for motoring offences and he had no convictions in the Crown Court.

He added that there was a delay in bringing the case to trial and that his client had a "good work record".

Mr Justice Colton said he was adjourning sentence until next week to consider a number of documents placed before the court.

Belfast Telegraph

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