Belfast Telegraph

Teenage girl 'suffered broken nose and fractured cheekbones after alleged attack by school formal date' - court hears

By Alan Erwin

A teenage girl suffered a broken nose and two fractured cheekbones in an alleged "out of the blue" attack by her school formal date, the High Court heard today.

The victim was punched in the face up to five times by the student she invited to go with her to the function in Ballymena, Co Antrim, prosecutors claimed.

At one stage the 17-year-old said she blacked out during last week's alleged assault.

Anthony Kearns (18) of Arundel Walk in Belfast, faces a charge of inflicting grievous bodily harm to the girl.

Setting out the case at a bail hearing, prosecution counsel Kate McKay said paramedics were called to the Tullyglass House Hotel in the early hours of November 15.

The victim, also from Belfast, claimed Kearns had attacked her before fleeing.

She told police that she had made a last-minute decision to attend her school formal, with Kearns agreeing to accompany her.

During the evening the accused's mood worsened when a row with someone else led to him being hit on the nose, the court heard.

According to the victim's account he became paranoid, arguing with door staff and claiming paramilitaries were going to get him.

She followed him outside when he left the hotel around 2am to wait for the bus home, Mrs McKay said.

Kearns allegedly became increasingly irrational despite schoolgirl's attempts to reason with him.

"She says he came at her, assaulting her four or five times to the face," the barrister told the court.

"She believes she blacked-out momentarily and the next thing she recalls is the applicant climbing over a wall and running away."

Kearns was arrested after walking into Ballymena police station to report the alleged assault on him.

The girl was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast to be treated for two fractured cheekbones, a broken nose and cuts round her eyes.

Surgery scheduled for this week at the Ulster Hospital has been put back due to the extent of facial swelling, the court heard.

Producing photos of the injuries sustained, Mrs McKay said: "It's a really, really violent attack, out of the blue it would seem, just out of something that occurred earlier in the evening."

Defence counsel accepted Kearns had been "extremely drunk" on the night.

"His recollection is vague, he remembers an altercation inside the formal, he was punched and had a broken nose," the lawyer said.

With the accused currently studying at a technical college in west Belfast, his barrister said he may have to "surrender his education" in order to secure bail.

A return to his home address was opposed by the prosecution.

Adjourning the application to allow checks on possible alternative living arrangements, Mr Justice Burgess stressed: "The protection of this young lady is first and foremost in my mind."

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