Belfast Telegraph

Traveller denies stabbing uncle in back at family gathering

Defendant stabbed in face weeks earlier

by Alan Erwin

A man accused of plunging a knife into his uncle's back had allegedly been stabbed in the face by the same relative weeks earlier, the High Court heard.

John McDonagh, 24, faces charges of attempted murder and threats to kill over the suspected attack at a family gathering in Cookstown, Co Tyrone.

His uncle was taken to hospital with a collapsed lung after police were called to the scene on February 22, prosecutors said.

John McDonagh, with an address at Sydney Lane in Aughnacloy, was granted bail on Monday but banned from contacting the alleged victim.

The court was told both men are members of the traveller community and had gone back to a house in Cookstown following a family celebration at a local bar.

Crown lawyer Robin Steer said the injured man claims his nephew took a knife from the kitchen and inflicted a single stab wound to his upper back "for no reason".

John McDonagh also threatened his uncle's wife before leaving the property, it was alleged.

He was arrested at a McDonald's restaurant in the town three hours later.

According to Mr Steer the alleged attack may be connected to a previous incident in January when John McDonagh was himself knifed to the face.

His uncle is accused of carrying out that attack.

"This incident appears to be linked to that matter," the prosecutor said.

John McDonagh denies either carrying out the latest stabbing or making any threats to kill, telling police he tried to intervene when a fight broke out among others at the gathering.

Defence counsel Sean Devine, instructed by solicitor John Rocks, described it as a "chaotic incident" following heavy drinking.

Claiming up to a dozen family members were present, the barrister added: "He (John McDonagh) suggests it might have been someone else."

Granting bail, Mr Justice McCloskey acknowledged the "rather unusual circumstances" of the case.

He imposed a curfew and alcohol ban, and ordered the defendant to live at an address to be approved by the court.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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