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Young men sentenced for 'grotesque orgy of violence' in Ulidia House attack on teenager

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The three young men were sentenced on Tuesday

The three young men were sentenced on Tuesday

PA Archive/PA Images

The three young men were sentenced on Tuesday

Three young men who took part in a "sustained, persistent and repeated" attack on their teenage friend in a flat in Belfast were sentenced for the assault on Tuesday.

The victim - who was 17 at the time of the May 2019 attack - was stripped naked, beaten unconscious and left in a lifeless state in a bath in an incident branded "a grotesque orgy of violence."

Footage of a portion of the prolonged attack which took place in Ulidia House was also recorded on a mobile phone, as were images of the bloodied and battered victim, which were then sent to other young people.

The teenager was rushed to hospital where he was intubated and remained in a coma in the Intensive Care Unit. He sustained multiple, serious injuries including a bleed on the brain, a fractured nose, broken ribs, a wound to his upper lung and extensive swelling to his head and face. He also sustained slash wounds to an upper arm.

Despite the severe nature of his injuries, he regained consciousness a few days later and was discharged.

All three attackers - Geordie Brown (20), Dean Clarke (22) and 20-year old Nathan McCrory - appeared at a remote hearing of Belfast Crown Court today, where they were sentenced for a charge of causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

Brown and McCrory, who are both currently housed in Hydebank YOC, were each handed an eight-year sentence which Judge Stephen Fowler QC said would be divided between four years in custody and four on licence.

Clarke, who was transferred from Hydebank to the Shannon secure unit at Knockbracken due to his mental health, was assessed as being a dangerous offender by the Probation Board and the court.

As he was assessed as posing a significant risk to the public, he was also handed an eight-year sentence, with an extended period of three year licence imposed.

Deemed dangerous, Clarke may not be automatically released on licence after serving half his sentence. Instead, he may serve the full eight years, and when released he will be on licence for a further three years. During this extended period, he will be recalled to prison if he breaches any terms of his licence.

As he sentenced all three men, Judge Fowler spoke of the "gratuitous degradation" inflicted on the teenager. The Judge also branded the images and videos of the incident as "trophy photographs."

The violent incident occurred on the afternoon of May 3, 2019 after all four had been drinking and taking drugs together.

Part of the attack was captured on Ulidia's internal CCTV system, whilst other footage inside the flat was filmed on Clarke's mobile phone, where the teenage was called a 'f***ing tout' whilst being repeatedly kicked and stamped on.

This footage, and pictures of the bleeding teen, were distributed to a number of contacts on Clarke's phone. In a series of accompanying messages, Clarke said he 'went nuts' and beat the teen for 'meeting his girl.'

A female friend said the teen was a 'child' and told Clarke to wake him up. Clarke said 'he's dead', and when asked if he was being serious, Clarke replied 'yeah.'

It was this footage which alerted the teenager's brother about the attack. He had been concerned about his sibling's whereabouts, and when the footage began circulating, he was contacted by an unknown female who sent him the clip, which was accompanied by the message 'is this your brother?'

As the trio were sentenced, it emerged that the alarm was raised by a resident at Ulidia House.

A security guard at the south Belfast apartment block had seen all four entering the flat with bottles of Buckfast at around 1.30pm. At 4pm a resident on the same floor reporting hearing screaming coming from the flat, and when the security guard attended he saw blood on the tiles outside the flat.

He knocked the door, McCrory answered, and when asked about the blood, McCrory told him 'one of my friends fell and bust his nose.' The security guard looked inside the flat and saw more blood in the hallway and on the floor.

With his suspicions roused, the security guard contacted the police, who arrived a short time later. When officers entered the flat, they found the badly beaten, naked, unconscious teenager in the bath - and were unsure whether he was alive or dead.

He was rushed to hospital, and when he was spoken to by police about what happened 12 days after the incident, the teen said he had little recollection of what happened, but remembered being beaten.

In a Victim Impact Statement, the teenager said he considered those who attacked him to be his friends, and feels they have destroyed his life.

Whilst he can't remember much, the teenager now has flashbacks, keeps himself to himself, and has turned to alcohol and cannabis to help him cope.

Clarke, Brown and McCrory were all arrested and initially gave limited responses to police during interviews.

Clarke, who has 57 previous convictions, has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. His barrister Stuart Magee said Clarke's mental health issues began in early childhood and this was coupled with prolonged substance misuse.

Mr Magee said Clarke had a "limited memory of the incident" but said it was accepted the messages on his phone were sent by him.

Brown, a former heroin addict with 14 previous convictions, claimed he took 150 illegal diazepam in the 24 hours leading to the attack and does not remember what happened in the flat.

His barrister Richard McConkey said: "This was a horrific offence. There is no excuse for what happened, it was horrendous and Brown knows it. He is remorseful."

McCrory, represented by barrister Michael Boyd, spoke of his client's "very very difficult childhood" which involved drug and alcohol misuse from an early age.

Branding what occurred in the flat as a "grotesque orgy of violence", Mr Boyd said McCrory was "ashamed of the way he behaved", adding "without drugs, the incident would never have unfolded."

As he sentenced the three young men, Judge Fowler described the group attack as "sustained, persisent and repeated", adding it was clear the trio intended to commit serious harm to their victim.

Belfast Telegraph


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