Belfast Telegraph

Youth who pleaded for a new liver ‘threatened to kill mum’

By Catherine Lynagh

A young man who made headlines across the UK while he waited in hospital for a life-saving liver transplant has been remanded in custody charged with threatening to kill his mother, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

Ards Magistrates Court heard 20-year-old Gareth Anderson, of Greenwell Street, Newtownards, is in custody on five serious charges.

He is charged with aggravated assault on his mother Vivian, attempting to cause grievous bodily harm with intent on his brother Lawrence, making a threat to kill his mother, possession of a class C drug diazepam, and causing criminal damage to glasses belonging to his mother.

The charges relate to an incident which allegedly took place on November 25, which was described in court as a “domestic”.

Anderson appeared via videolink from a Young Offenders’ Centre and applied for bail.

The prosecution argued against bail on the grounds that police opposed it.

The court was told that police objected to the bail address supplied by Anderson, as it was unsuitable.

A defence solicitor described the 20-year-old as: “A young man who has serious medical difficulties and problems with drink. He was on the liver transplant list at one time.”

The solicitor added: “This is a domestic incident between him, his mother and his brother and there is no good reason why he shouldn’t be bailed.”

District Judge Mark Hamill refused bail and said: “Attempted grievous bodily harm with intent is one charge below murder.”

In August last year the image of Gareth Anderson lying in a hospital bed was beamed across the UK as his parents desperately campaigned to get him a liver transplant.

The campaign began when his father Brian Anderson called BBC radio pleading for help. He said his son had fallen ill after a weekend of heavy drinking.

Doctors had refused him a liver transplant on the grounds that NHS policy dictates alcohol-related liver failure patients must be alcohol-free for six months before they are eligible for transplant.

Mr Anderson insisted the policy should apply to older patients with chronic alcoholism, not a teenager who had never before needed medical treatment for a drink-related illness. Gareth’s story provoked national debate on transplant eligibility.

Speaking from his hospital bed at the time, Gareth denied having any issues with alcohol.

He said: “I’ll never be drinking again. I was only drinking about 30 tins of beer.

“I think I must have a weak liver. I’ll never have another drink in my life. It’s not worth it, I’d rather just lead a normal life,” he added.

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