Belfast Telegraph

Michael Loughlin accused of 'kicking victim's head like a football'

By Paul Higgins

A man accused of attempted murder kicked his unconscious victim's head "like a footballer taking a free-kick", a court has heard.

Newry Magistrates Court also heard claims that 22-year-old Michael Loughlin kicked Brendan McGivern with such force that "he fell back and injured his own wrist", and that when he was arrested he told police: "I hope Brendan McGivern dies."

Loughlin, from Iveagh Close in Banbridge, appeared in the dock flanked by four officers, charged with the attempted murder of Mr McGivern, assaulting his brother Anthony McGivern, causing criminal damage to a police vehicle, stealing two bottles of Buckfast from Winemark, assaulting police and disorderly behaviour, all alleged to have occurred on July 21.

Alongside him in the dock was 20-year-old Shea Leonard of Willow Avenue in Banbridge, who is accused of causing Brendan McGivern grievous bodily harm with intent and stealing two bottles of Buckfast.

Loughlin, who confirmed he understood the charges, did not apply for bail. He was remanded into custody to appear again on August 17 via video-link.

Leonard did apply for bail but a detective constable, who said he believed he could connect the pair to their respective charges, gave evidence that police objected to his release amid fears that he would interfere with witnesses or reoffend.

The charges arise following an incident close to Mr McGivern's home in the Scarva Walk area of Banbridge on Friday.

The officer said police and ambulance crews were called to the scene at around 4pm over reports of three men fighting. When officers arrived at the scene Mr McGivern was "lying in a pool of blood and unconscious" said the officer, adding that a witness described the two accused as "out of their heads and staggering about" when they called to Mr McGivern's door at 2.30pm.

Shortly before 4pm Anthony McGivern was driving his white van on Anderson Street when he noticed Loughlin and Leonard. He stopped to speak to them but Loughlin allegedly reached in through the window and started punching him.

As he drove off his brother arrived and they "directed their anger towards Brendan" who told them to go home as they were drunk, the court heard.

He walked away towards his flat but, the detective continued, they followed him and, as he reached the top of the stairs beside his flat, Loughlin "attempted to throw Brendan over a railing from the first floor balcony, a drop of 12 foot onto concrete".

He punched, kicked and jumped on his victim's head, the officer claimed, adding that the incident was captured on CCTV footage which police seized the following day. It was said to show Loughlin attacking Brendan McGivern from behind and trying to throw him over the balcony. Leonard, the court heard, was seen running towards Mr McGivern on the ground and aiming seven kicks at the victim.

After getting up, Loughlin allegedly jumped up and down on Mr McGivern in what the officer described as a "brutal attack" which left Loughlin's hands and clothes "saturated in blood".

In one CCTV clip, the officer described how Loughlin had walked away, but turned and ran at McGivern lying on the ground, kicking him in the head "similar to a footballer taking a free-kick".

District Judge Eamon King said he shared police concerns over the risks of Leonard being freed, and remanded him into custody to appear again on the same date as Loughlin.

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