Belfast Telegraph

Carrick man accused of beating bouncer refused bail request

By Alan Erwin

A Carrickfergus man accused of a suspected loyalist feud attack on a pub bouncer cannot return to live in the town, a High Court judge has ruled.

Ian Sinclair's bid to vary bail terms so he can see his housebound father was denied amid prosecution claims it could put public safety at risk.

But Mr Justice McCloskey also raised the possibility of limited future visits to the family home being agreed with police.

Sinclair, 37, of Elizabeth Avenue in the town, is one of three men charged with causing grievous bodily harm with intent over the incident at the Royal Oak Bar in March this year.

A doorman allegedly beaten with a fire extinguisher suffered a blood clot to the brain, along with multiple skull and facial fractures, according to police.

Detectives also revealed at a previous hearing how he had to undergo physiotherapy for walking and talking skills.

Sinclair and his co-defendants were originally charged with attempted murder, but are now facing prosecution for the lesser alleged offence.

They are accused of launching an assault after being refused entry to the pub.

Police have linked the incident to ongoing tensions between rival factions in the town.

High-profile loyalist George Gilmore was murdered days after the alleged pub attack.

Sinclair is on bail at an undisclosed location under conditions which include a ban on entering Carrickfergus.

Defence counsel insisted the request to be allowed back was not based on a "cavalier" attitude to his own safety.

"His father is essentially housebound," Jon Paul Shields told the court.

"It's the isolation from family and friends, particularly his father, that is causing this application."

A Crown lawyer contended, however, that a feud involving paramilitary groups in Carrickfergus is ongoing.

"Police are objecting to ensure the safety of members of the public, and that includes the applicant," he said.

"There's simply too great a risk for the applicant to move back into the Carrickfergus area."

Ruling on the variation request, Mr Justice McCloskey cited the well-documented "phenomenon" of town's loyalist paramilitary feud.

"The under-resourced police service cannot be expected to invest disproportionate resources in protecting one member of the community against a risk which can be reasonably avoided," he said.

"The variation application he seeks must be refused."

Despite that denial, the judge suggested Sinclair and the police could still reach agreement to enable pre-arranged visits to his father.

Adjourning the case, he said he wanted to give the parties the chance to investigate that option.

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