Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland assault accused 'lost half his leg' in earlier incident involving police dog, court is told

A 28-year-old man accused of inflicting head injuries on a vulnerable victim
A 28-year-old man accused of inflicting head injuries on a vulnerable victim "lost half his leg" when a police dog was deployed during an arrest, the High Court heard yesterday

By Alan Erwin

A 28-year-old man accused of inflicting head injuries on a vulnerable victim "lost half his leg" when a police dog was deployed during an arrest, the High Court heard yesterday.

Stephen Collins, of no fixed address, has been left on crutches due to injuries he sustained in the detention.

He currently faces charges of assault occasioning actual bodily harm to another man and possession of an offensive weapon, namely a hammer. The alleged offences were committed at a house in Downpatrick on November 20.

During a bail application Crown lawyer Conor Maguire said the incident occurred a day after a separate prosecution against Collins was dropped.

He had been arrested for the earlier matter on October 25 while allegedly on the run, with a police dog unit involved in that operation, the court heard.

"The applicant received a significant calf injury as a result of the dog's engagement with him," Mr Maguire confirmed.

Referring to the current case, the barrister claimed Collins was seen limping, bloodstained and topless, while banging on doors at Glebetown Drive in Downpatrick.

Police investigating the incident later found the alleged victim at hospital with injuries to the front and back of his head.

He told officers that he had been struck with a bottle and an unknown object after intervening in a fight between Collins and his girlfriend, the court heard.

Mr Maguire described the man as vulnerable, with a history of self-harm.

He has yet to make a formal statement of complaint about the alleged attack.

Defence barrister Sean Doherty disputed the prosecution's assessment of the alleged victim, claiming he has an extensive criminal record, including a sentence for attacking a retired school teacher.

Contending that the case lacked credibility, Mr Doherty stressed his client claims to have acted in self-defence. Counsel added: "This man (Collins) has been unfairly treated by police.

"He lost half his leg as a consequence of his arrest on that earlier occasion and he's now walking on crutches.

"There was no requirement for police to take that step."

Bail was refused, however, amid claims Collins issued a warning that if the alleged victim makes a statement "it will be the last thing he does".

Mr Justice Huddleston ruled: "From what I have heard there's a risk of interference with the administration of justice."

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