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Man beaten unconscious in Belfast garden over stolen motorbike, court told


Belfast Magistrates' Court (Niall Carson/PA)

Belfast Magistrates' Court (Niall Carson/PA)

Belfast Magistrates' Court (Niall Carson/PA)

A man was allegedly beaten unconscious in a west Belfast garden during a suspected row over a stolen motorbike, a court was told on Thursday.

He was taken to hospital with serious head injuries after being discovered at Arundel Walk on Tuesday night.

Details emerged as 26-year-old Christopher Kearns appeared at the city's Magistrates Court charged with involvement in the assault.

Kearns, of Arundel Walk, faces a count of causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

Police said officers responding to reports of a fight in a garden found the injured man lying unconscious with his father trying to revive him.

Residents claimed Kearns, another man and a woman had been involved in an altercation at the scene.

One witness said she was alerted by dogs barking and heard the second man say "hold him up" and "just admit it", the court was told.

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Kearns then allegedly shouted: "That's enough, that's enough."

According to the neighbour's account she saw the defendant by the injured man's side, holding his tongue in an apparent attempt to administer first aid.

Another witness said she also observed a scuffle and heard voices talking about a stolen motorbike.

A detective said: "She stated that she heard (the second man) say 'Tell the truth, swear on your ma's grave that you didn't steal the motorbike."

The injured party then allegedly fell to the ground while the other suspect appeared to lift his leg in a stomping motion.

"She said she heard what she thought were five thumps and believed they sounded like kicks," the detective added.

At that point a female voice allegedly shouted: "Stop, you will kill him."

Kearns was arrested after being found upstairs in the property with blood on his chin and lip, police said.

A 19-year-old woman detained at the scene was later released on bail, pending further enquiries. The second man has yet to be located.

During interviews Kearns initially claimed the alleged victim arrived at Arundel Walk already injured and stating that he had been jumped.

He told police that he gave first aid after the man collapsed, suffered a violent seizure and stopped breathing.

But no comment was given when CCTV apparently showed the injured party arriving unharmed.

Defence lawyer Paul Farrell, of McIvor Farrell Solicitors, argued that it was "a clearly contestable case".

Even on the prosecution case Kearns had been attempting to stop the alleged attack, he submitted.

Refusing bail, however, District Judge Mark Hamill cited the risks of further offences and interference with the investigation.

He remanded Kearns in custody to appear again by video-link in four weeks time.

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