Belfast Telegraph

Man assaulted pair while on leave from prison, court hears

By Staff Reporter

A prisoner on weekend leave accused of punching a couple at a family get-together in Co Antrim was "a man possessed", a court has heard.

A police response unit was called after Christopher Aitcheson (35), of Killagan Road near Cloughmills, grabbed a hatchet.

Yesterday he appeared at Coleraine Magistrates Court via video-link from Magilligan Prison.

He is charged with assaulting a man occasioning him actual bodily harm and assaulting the man's wife on April 15 this year.

The court heard the defendant is due to be released from prison on June 27 for a previous offence.

Last year Aitcheson was given a three-year sentence - half of which had to be served behind bars and the other half on licence - for a one-punch attack in which he blinded his partner's ex-husband in one eye.

Opposing bail in relation to the charges concerning April this year, an officer said that at around 1.30am on the date in question police received a 999 call saying a man and his wife had been assaulted by Aitcheson.

The court heard the couple had been invited to a family get-together in Cloughmills.

The defendant was on weekend leave from prison.

The court heard that when the couple and their children arrived at the house the defendant had already been drinking and that during the evening the defendant and the man had gone to Patton's Pub in Cloughmills.

The police officer said later back at the house Aitcheson began punching the man and also punched the man's wife.

The officer added the man said he could not understand why Aitcheson was behaving in such a way. The court heard the defendant then picked up a small hatchet and followed the couple to the door. The officer said the injured parties had described Aitcheson as "a man possessed and dangerous" and the PSNI was then contacted.

The officer objected to bail saying there was a risk of further offending, and part of Aitcheson's early release conditions involved not drinking alcohol, although he was drinking on this occasion.

The officer said both victims were "very afraid" of Aitcheson.

District Judge Nigel Broderick said he could be released on bail subject to a suitable address being agreed but the defendant was banned from having contact with the injured parties.

He is not to enter the town where they live, consume alcohol or be on licensed premises. He also has an 11pm-7am curfew.

The case was adjourned to June 25.

Belfast Telegraph

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