Four appear in court over "vicious attack" outside pub in Armoy

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by Q Radio News

Four north Antrim men accused of a “vicious attack” where their alleged victim was kicked about the head and body before a car “shunted him up the footpath” were refused bail today (tues).

Remanding 23-year-old Jarlath Jones, Jake McClaffery (24), 22-year-old Tyrone McCormick and Sean Healy (32) into custody at Antrim Magistrates Court, District Judge Nigel Broderick said he had concerns that if freed, the defendants could interfere with the “live investigation.”

All four are jointly accused on a number of charges including attempting to cause grievous bodily harm to Paul O’Kane, driving a Mazda car while unfit, failing to report, remain and stop after a road traffic collision. 

McCormick, from Glenville Crescent in Cushendall and Jones, from Beachlands in Carnlough, both fave four counts of common assault and two of causing actual bodily harm while McClaffery, from Rockfield Row, Cargan, faces five assault and one ABH and Healy, from Kilnadore Crescent, also in Cushendall, faces six counts of common assault.

McClaffery and McCormick were further charged with obstructing police and the theft of an envelope and handbag, with all charges allegedly committed on 18 August.

Giving evidence to the court, Detective Constable Wilkinson said he believed he could connect all four to each of the charges, adding that police were objecting to the defendants being freed on bail amid fears they would interfere with witnesses or with the ongoing police investigation. 

Recounting the background to the charges, he outlined how the victim was attacked outside a bar on Main Street in Armoy at around 01.10 am when he was “repeatedly kicked about the head and body until he was unconscious.”

He claimed that while he lay unconscious, face down on the footpath, “one of the defendants, I believe Mr Healy, approached Mr O’Kane, raises his head off the ground and bit his nose.”

The detective told the court that from CCTV footage of the incident, staff and customers came out from the bar to assist the victim but the forage then shows a car “on the footpath colliding with Mr O’Kane who is still on the floor and shunts him up the footpath.”

“The witnesses would say that the four males involved in the assault get out of the car and then proceeded to assault the other victims named,” claimed the cop. 

The court heard the car left the scene but was located around three miles away at Magherahoney, almost two hours after the incident.

Each of the defendants were arrested close to the area where the car was found - McCormick hiding under a bin, McClafferty hiding below a car with Jones and Healey “found together in a field.”

DC Wilkinson revealed that police believe the four had “swapped clothing” in the intervening period between the incident and their arrests, further revealing that one defendant had only one shoe and Jones was wearing “two right shoes.”

Three other shoes, said the officer, have not been found and police are searching for them. 

He told Judge Broderick that despite being beaten unconscious and struck by the car, Mr O’Kane has suffered “numerous cuts and bruises” and the court heard that he has since been discharged from hospital. 

Taking each defendants police interviews in turn, the Detective said McClafferty had provided two written statements here he accepted involvement in an altercation and that he had been in the car but claimed he was acting in self defence, did not say who was driving and refused to identify himself in the CCTV footage. 

Jones who appeared in court with his right arm was in a sling, remained silent throughout “and didn’t speak at all,” said the officer.

Refusing to answer questions until the final interview where he provided a written statement, McCormick accepted he was in the car but denied driving it. 

Healy however, claimed he had been a back seat passenger and accepted he was involved in the assault “and apologised for his actions.”

DC Wilkinson told the court police suspected Jones had been driving the car when it struck Mr O’Kane as Healy claimed McCormick and McClafferty were also in passenger seats, it was registered to his mother and he was a named driver in the insurance policy but added that police are awaiting the results from forensic tests. 

Defence lawyers for the four alleged assailants submitted that with either clear or limited records and addresses away from the incident, that each could be freed on bail albeit with stringent conditions in order to assuage police concerns. 

Describing the incident as a “vicious attack,” Judge Broderick disagreed however and said he was refusing bail on the grounds of a risk they would interfere with the investigation. 

All four will appear at Coleraine Magistrates Court, vis videolink, on 16 September. 

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