Belfast Telegraph

Man accused of 'bloody unprovoked attack' at Belfast Zoo refused bail

Belfast Zoo
Belfast Zoo

By Alan Erwin

A man accused of a launching an unprovoked attack at Belfast Zoo and filming the blood-covered victim must remain in custody, a High Court judge ruled today.

Piaras Heatley was refused bail amid claims he broke the other man's nose and stole his wallet containing £130 after the met at the visitor attraction.

The 22-year-old defendant, of Collinward Avenue in Newtownabbey, is charged with inflicting grievous bodily harm, theft, criminal damage and threats to kill.

Heatley also faces counts of intimidating a witness amid claims he called the victim a "tout" and threatened to have him "done". He denies all charges.

Prosecution counsel David Russell said the two men arranged to meet at the zoo on May 19 last year to return some belongings.

He claimed that as the victim approached, Heatley launched an unprovoked assault, knocking him to the ground.

The defendant allegedly continued the attack by repeatedly punching the man about the face.

Heatley then took photos or videos of the bloodied victim on his phone, according to the police and prosecution case.

It was claimed that before departing he threatened him: "Don't go to the f****** cops or I will stab you."

The man managed to get down to the nearby Antrim Road where members of the public arranged for an ambulance, the court heard.

He was treated in hospital for nasal fractures and facial bruising.

A day later he required further medial help after suffering a seizure. 

Following Heatley's arrest a mobile phone was seized and examined.

Mr Russell claimed it contained video footage of the victim lying bloodied on the ground, with a voice heard warning him about contacting the police.

The accused was originally released on police bail pending further investigations.

But according to police he has since tried to intimidate the victim, and told him "everything will be sweet" if he drops the charges.

Heatley's barrister, Sean Mullan, told the court: "He states that he wasn't at the zoo on the day in question, he was at another individual's house."

Mr Mullan also argued that his client has mental health issues which would be dealt with out of custody.

Denying bail, however, Mrs Justice Keegan cited the risks of further offences and interference with witnesses.

Belfast Telegraph Digital


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