Northern Ireland

Tensions over attempted murder in Belfast's Markets area

Tensions are running high over an attack on a man in the Markets area of Belfast, a court has heard.

Joe Henry, 42, was found by his mother after being stabbed in the throat at a house in Eliza Terrace.

Details emerged as Hugh McCormick, 46, appeared in court charged with attempting to murder Mr Henry.

Mr McCormick, of Stanfield Place, Belfast denies the allegation but was remanded in custody after being refused bail.

The attack was also linked to an ongoing dispute in the area.

Opposing Mr McCormick's release, a detective constable told the city's Magistrates Court tensions were running high over the attack.

He claimed attempts could be made to have a witness statement withdrawn and that Mr McCormick himself may be under threat.

'Bad blood'

A defence lawyer stressed that the witness in the case had neither seen the assault nor his client holding any weapon.

During cross-examination he asked for confirmation that police did not know what weapon was used.

The officer replied: "We can't say for certain."

He also claimed that police had information about "bad blood" between opposing groups in the Markets area.

Amid defence claims that a weak case existed against Mr McCormick, the detective was asked to set out the evidence.

He told the court Mr Henry's mother said she heard him call up to ask if she wanted breakfast.

She claims to have seen Mr McCormick and another suspect walking through the hallway when she came downstairs.

"She finds her son grasping his neck, with blood coming out of it," the officer said.

"She would say she has known the suspect for the past 30 years or so."

Trial

With a dispute ongoing, it was claimed Mr McCormick had no reason to be in her home.

But a prosecution lawyer indicated that without any further evidence the case was unlikely to proceed to trial.

District Judge Harry McKibbin was also told by the defence that others were in the house, including the second suspect who had not been there for 15 years.

Despite the submissions, Mr McCormick was remanded in custody to appear again via video-link next month.

Mr McKibbin said: "The evidence places him very close to what happened at the time."