Belfast Telegraph

Man beaten unconscious by masked gang feared he was going to be killed

By Ashleigh McDonald

A man beaten up by an armed gang who forced their way into his home thought he was going to die, a court was told yesterday.

The victim, whose disabled son and daughter were in the house in Larne at the time it was attacked by a 70-strong mob, was beaten to the point of unconsciousness on his kitchen floor.

Steven Adam Blackwood (30) and Stephen Mettleton (35), both from Greenisland, are accused of setting upon the man in his home on March 30 last year.

They are standing trial at Belfast Crown Court on charges of attempted murder, criminal damage and intimidation.

Prosecuting barrister Neil Connor QC told the non-jury Diplock trial the pair were linked to the incident via DNA, but both men denied any involvement and said they had not been in Larne.

Outlining the case to judge Alistair Devlin, Mr Connor said the victim was at home on March 30 when he heard a male voice say, "You're all dead".

When he looked outside, he saw several masked men getting out of a van with hammers, baseball bats, machetes and hatchets.

After sending his disabled children to hide, the victim, whose house had been attacked previously, went downstairs and heard a window being smashed at the back of his house at the same time as his front door was straining from repeated blows.

After he retreated into the kitchen, the door gave way and the crowd started smashing furniture.

As the victim was holding the kitchen door to keep the crowd out, he was "struck on the back of his head by one of a number of bricks and other missiles thrown through the kitchen window", and quickly surrounded and attacked, Mr Connor said.

The barrister added: "He tried to protect himself with his hands, but given the number of attackers and the severity of the attack, this proved futile. He believed he was going to die."

The victim, who has since left the home, fell to the floor and lost consciousness, not waking up until after he arrived at Belfast's Royal Victoria with injuries including a fractured skull, head lacerations that required staples and stitches, multiple fractured ribs and a ruptured spleen.

Mr Connor said the nature of the injuries were "such that it is reasonable to infer that those involved in the attack were possessed of a murderous intent."

When police attended the scene, the man's partner identified a number of items left behind, including latex gloves, a balaclava and a claw hammer.

The court heard that after testing, the man's DNA was found on the hammer, while DNA matching Blackwood and Mettleton's profiles was discovered on the balaclava and gloves respectively.

Mettleton claimed to have been in Ballyclare with his girlfriend at the time of the attack, but analysis of his mobile phone revealed he was at or in the vicinity of the scene.

Mr Connor said it was the Crown's case that both Blackwood and Mettleton "were involved in an orchestrated attack as part of a joint enterprise". The case continues.

Belfast Telegraph


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