Belfast Telegraph

Man accused of stabbing relative in the back during a family argument

By Brendan Farrington

A 23-year-old man has been remanded in custody charged with attempted murder after a stabbing in Cookstown.

A man suffered serious injuries, including a punctured lung, during the incident in the Co Tyrone town.

However, the accused denies involvement and instead claims he witnessed the victim's son carry out the stabbing, which followed a fight earlier in the evening.

John Stephen McDonagh of Sydney Lane, Aughnacloy, is accused of committing the offence against a male relative on February 22, as well as threatening to kill the victim's wife when she tried to intervene.

A detective constable told Dungannon Magistrates Court the charges could be connected.

Objecting to bail, the detective said police were called to a flat in the Burnvale Crescent area of Cookstown just after midnight, after a dispute had broken out. The victim suffered a stab wound to his back, puncturing a lung.

Then, at around 3.30am the same morning, a report was received that McDonagh was in the Cookstown branch of McDonald's restaurant, where police detained and arrested him.

Meanwhile, the wounded man was rushed to Craigavon Area Hospital for emergency treatment.

He told police a group of relatives had been drinking. A dispute had broken out and the victim described experiencing extreme pain in his back, and discovered he had been stabbed with a kitchen knife, identifying McDonagh as the assailant.

The victim's wife tried to take the knife from McDonagh, but he is alleged to have threatened to kill her.

She suffered hand injuries as a result of trying to grasp the blade.

During interview, McDonagh denied involvement, and while he agreed there had been a dispute among family members, contended this involved the male victim and his own son.

McDonagh claimed that following an argument, the son punched his father in the face, causing his nose to bleed. He asserted that the son went to the kitchen, returned with a knife and plunged it into his father's back.

But the detective told the court this was disputed by several witnesses and their comments were captured on PSNI body-worn cameras. He said both the victim and his wife clearly identified McDonagh as the assailant.

Opposing bail, the detective said: "While we have no evidence, we have been told the defendant intends to travel to the Republic of Ireland or England when he is released.

"In addition, all persons in this matter are family members and police believe they could be intimidated. There has also been a previous allegation between both parties."

A record supplied by An Garda Siochana showed extensive criminal offending in the Republic, the court heard.

McDonagh is also noted to have been on bail since June 13, 2017 on an allegation of intimidating a woman in order to have her withdraw a statement of complaint. In this instance it is alleged the threat involved a knife.

A defence solicitor argued McDonagh should be released and pointed out there were as yet no statements of complaint.

He told the court: "I am conscious this is a very serious offence, but my client strenuously denies involvement and tried to help police as best he could. I believe he is a strong candidate for bail."

District Judge John Meehan responded: "Your belief sir, is of no consequence."

Turning to McDonagh, the judge said: "Bail is refused. There is risk on every level."

McDonagh was remanded in custody to appear by video-link at Dungannon Magistrates Court next month.

Belfast Telegraph

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