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Victim punched 16 times in the head during frenzied Belfast street attack by man dressed only in boxer shorts, court is told

A man fighting for his life after being attacked in north Belfast was punched in the face 16 times in a matter of seconds, a court has heard.

Conor Lewsley's head was also stamped on as he lay stricken on the ground, police said.

An investigating detective claimed it was an unprovoked assault carried out by an assailant wearing only boxer shorts.

Ben Cullinan (23) faces a charge of attempting to murder Mr Lewsley on the city's Antrim Road early last Sunday morning.

Cullinan, of Glenville Park, Newtownabbey, appeared before Belfast Magistrates Court dressed in a police-issue white boiler suit.

He is further accused of assaulting another man in the same incident.

Alongside him in the dock was 31-year-old Seamus McGranaghan of Antrim Road in the city.

McGranaghan is charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm to a third alleged victim.

Both men face further charges of cultivating cannabis and possessing Class B drugs with intent to supply.

Mr Lewsley (24) remains in a critical condition after undergoing surgery at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

The court heard that just before the attack he had called at McGranaghan's home with three other young men.

A detective constable claimed they left after Cullinan told them McGranaghan was in bed sleeping.

Minutes later the two accused allegedly went out after the group.

It was claimed that CCTV footage of the incident, close to Antrim Road PSNI station, showed Cullinan hit Mr Lewsley before they both fell to the ground.

The detective said: "He (Cullinan) then sits astride Mr Lewsley and strikes him 16 times in the face, continuously, very quickly, sustained and aggressive.

"Then he stands up and stamps on his head with full force and walks away."

Police are uncertain whether the victim was still conscious at this stage, the court was told.

"Mr Cullinan has been identified as the person who committed the assault," the detective added.

"He was wearing boxer shorts only."

Opposing bail, the detective claimed there was a danger to the public due to the unprovoked attack.

According to police, Cullinan declined to give an account during questioning.

During cross-examination yesterday, defence solicitor Feargal MacElhatton contended that minimal injuries were found on his client's hands. He also claimed the CCTV footage was too grainy to establish whether Cullinan had any footwear on at the time of the alleged attack.

Mr MacElhatton challenged the cannabis cultivation charge against Cullinan, which is based on 16 plants allegedly found in a bedroom of the co-accused's home.

But the detective told him the smell of drugs at the property was so overwhelming that anyone present must have known about them.

Cullinan was refused bail due to the risk of re-offending.

He was remanded in custody along with McGranaghan, who did not seek bail, to appear again in four weeks' time.

Belfast Telegraph