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Stabbing manhunt ends with bloodied suspect Stephen McFarlane cornered in Belfast cul-de-sac after police pursuit

By David Young

Published 16/01/2016

An Audi is towed away after its driver was cornered in east Belfast yesterday
An Audi is towed away after its driver was cornered in east Belfast yesterday
An Audi is towed away after its driver was cornered in east Belfast yesterday
An Audi is towed away after its driver was cornered in east Belfast yesterday
Suspect: Stephen McFarlane

A city-wide manhunt for frenzied knife attack suspect Stephen McFarlane came to an end after he was cornered in an east Belfast street yesterday following a high-speed police chase.

Squad cars pursued the suspect's white Audi A6 across the east of the city, eventually forcing McFarlane (32) into Welland Street, a cul-de-sac close to the junction of the Newtownards and Holywood roads.

The PSNI took the unusual step of releasing a photo of McFarlane on Thursday after issuing a warrant for his arrest following the stabbing in Glengormley on Wednesday that left a 26-year-old mother-of-two in a critical condition in hospital.

Eyewitnesses spoke of seeing McFarlane's Audi mount the pavement as he swerved in a bid to escape his police pursuers before skidding though 90 degrees into Welland Street - where he was finally cornered and arrested.

The suspect, who witnesses described as being injured and covered in blood, was taken by ambulance with a police escort to the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald.

Both the health authorities and the PSNI last night declined to comment on his condition.

Welland Street - once a traditional terraced street of small kitchen houses - is 40 feet long and backs onto Tamar Court, a pensioners' sheltered dwelling complex.

One elderly resident of the building, who was too frightened to give his name, described hearing what he said sounded like a car crash with screeching brakes and men screaming and shouting at each other.

Hairdressers Jackie Skelly and Jillian Archer, who work in Edges Barber Shop just a few feet away from where McFarlane was captured at 2pm, also witnessed the end of the chase.

Ms Skelly said: "We heard brakes squealing and we saw the police car smash into the white Audi just as it spun into Welland Street.

"The guy in the car was injured - we could see he was covered in blood - and then an ambulance arrived and took him away."

The white Audi, its driver's side window shattered and covered with a blue PVC sheet, remained in the sealed-off street as forensic experts began their work. It was later removed on a low-loader.

Ms Archer, whose mother lives in Glengormley's Ashgrove area, where McFarlane is suspected of carrying out Wednesday's attack, said she thought he looked familiar.

"It was pretty scary," she added. "He may even have been in here for a haircut, or I could have seen him around in Glengormley."

She was initially left stranded as her car was sealed off behind the police lines.

PSNI spokesman Detective Inspector Chris Millar said last night: "I would like to thank the public and the media for their assistance in this matter.

"We received a number of calls from members of the public throughout our search, and we are grateful for that co-operation.

"Our investigation into this serious assault will now continue."

The victim of the stabbing attack was last night understood to be off the critical list, and to have spoken with detectives investigating the incident.

Belfast Telegraph

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