Belfast Telegraph

Belfast man Bradley given 18 months in jail for stabbing man in face over cigarette

137 previous convictions and attack carried out while on suspended sentence

By Ashleigh McDonald

A Belfast man who stabbed another man in the face following an early morning row over a cigarette was sent to jail for 18 months.

Gareth Bradley left his victim with a "large gaping laceration" above his right eye as well as defensive wounds to his hand after a row broke out between two groups at a petrol station on the Andersonstown Road.

The 30-year old, from St James Parade, was told he will serve half his sentence in prison, followed by the same period on licence when he is released from custody for an offence branded as "very serious" by Judge Patricia Smyth.

Belfast Crown Court heard that since last June, two people who were present during the incident, have since died. The court was also told that despite 17 attempts made by police, the injured party refused to co-operate with the investigation.

A Crown prosecutor said: "He made it clear to police ... that he wanted to move on with his life and put this behind him."

The stabbing took place in west Belfast at around 1am on June 1 last year. The incident started at the garage when the injured man was asked, but refused, to hand over a cigarette. As the men then walked from the garage and onto the Andersonstown Road, Bradley produced a large knife which he then used to slash the injured party.

Telling the court it would appear that the injured party put his hands up to protect his face and head, the prosecutor said the man was left with a large cut above his eye and a smaller wound to the bridge of his nose. He also sustained a wound to his right hand which was so severe that both the tendons and bone were visible.

While the facial wound was treated with sutures, the hand injury required surgery. Once released, the injured man was told to attend as an out-patient for follow-up treatment, which he failed to do.

Following his arrest, Bradley gave a "no comment" interview - but has since admitted causing the injured party grievous bodily harm, and possessing a knife on the Andersonstown Road. The court heard the weapon was recovered from the roof of a building during a subsequent police search.

The prosecutor said there was "a considerable amount of alcohol involved" which was aggravated by the use of a weapon. It also emerged that Bradley - who appeared before the court with 137 previous convictions - carried out last June's stabbing whilst under a suspended sentence.

Defence barrister Barry Gibson spoke of his client's long-standing issues with drink and drugs, and revealed that at the time of the offence, Bradley was under the influence of alcohol and Pregabalin, adding the medication had an adverse affect on Bradley's mental health.

Mr Gibson also revealed that following the death of his mother last May, Bradley "went completely off the rails" and was effectively homeless.

The barrister said that a combination of living on the streets, losing his mother, and abusing drink and drugs resulted in Bradley going "off the Richter scale."

Regarding the incident itself, Mr Gibson said it as "very brief" and amounted to a "slashing blow" during which Bradley struck out no more than twice.

Mr Gibson concluded by saying that when Bradley is released from prison, it is his intention to "leave Belfast ... and establish a new life for himself."

Jailing Bradley, Judge Smyth said that while she accepted the incident occurred at a time when he was mourning the loss of his mother and living a "chaotic lifestyle," he did have a "significant and substantial" criminal record which included offences for violence.

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