Belfast Telegraph

Belfast man Vincent Clarke jailed for attack which left his friend with disfigured face

A 38-year-old man who slashed his
A 38-year-old man who slashed his "lifelong friend" in the face after consuming a "toxic mix" of alcohol, cocaine and Diazepam was handed a seven-year sentence yesterday

By Ashleigh McDonald

A 38-year-old man who slashed his "lifelong friend" in the face after consuming a "toxic mix" of alcohol, cocaine and Diazepam was handed a seven-year sentence yesterday.

Vincent Clarke, from Mackey Street in Belfast, will spend half his sentence in prison and the rest on licence for the August 2019 attack that left his pal with "very extensive facial disfigurement"

Belfast Crown Court heard that as Clarke's friend was taken to hospital for treatment, Clarke went to his house and smashed windows with a hammer to "sicken" him.

The violent incident occurred on August 8 last year after the pair had been socialising in a north Belfast bar.

The injured party left at around 8pm and when he returned later an argument broke out as Clarke felt he had been abandoned.

Prosecuting barrister Robin Steer said the injured party tried to calm Clarke down.

The pair then left the bar and, despite the injured party telling Clarke he didn't want to fight, a scuffle broke out, punches were exchanged and both men ended up on the ground.

The injured party said that after they got up, Clarke kept coming at him and struck him in the face. He initially thought it was a punch, and when he saw the blood, he said to Clarke: "Look what you have done".

Clarke fled and the injured party went back to the bar before being taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital.

Mr Steer said the slice wound - which extended from the injured man's temple to upper lip - required 21 stitches.

Clarke was arrested four days later, when he told police: "I can't believe what happened."

He denied using a weapon, claiming he used a piece of glass, and when asked about the windows, Clarke said: "I just wanted to sicken him and give him something to clean up in the morning."

Defence barrister Mark Farrell said his client was a diagnosed schizophrenic and said his prescribed medication coupled with the alcohol, cocaine and Diazepam he took that day was a "toxic mix" which left him "completely befuddled."

The barrister said that prior to the incident, the two men had been "lifelong friends".

Clarke, who has a previous conviction for violence, admitted wounding his friend with intent to do his grievous bodily harm, and of causing criminal damage.

As he passed sentence, Judge Neil Rafferty QC said the "chilling" incident highlighted the "horrors that arise" from excessive drinking and drug-taking.

He told Clarke: "This was a senseless, barbaric wounding of a close friend.

"Actions have consequences and one of the consequences of your actions is that your friend has been left with severe facial disfigurement for life."

Judge Rafferty also spoke of mental health and a decrease in the stigma surrounding it. He concluded by telling Clarke: "I hope you realise that no mental health picture is ever improved by self-medicating with alcohol, cocaine and Diazepam."

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