Northern Ireland

Man beaten with hatchets in Newry 'as part of Traveller feud'

A man was beaten with hatchets and a wheel brace as part of a Traveller feud, the High Court has heard.

Witnesses said they feared he was going to be killed by three men who targeted him in Newry, County Down.

A judge was also told of a "severe" campaign of alleged intimidation against the victim's family, including shots being fired at a house.

Details emerged as one of the men accused of trying to kill him was granted compassionate bail.

Thomas Ward, 23, of Second Avenue, Newry, faces charges of attempted murder and possession of an offensive weapon.

He is alleged to have been involved in the attack in the Carnaget area of the city on 6 June.

The prosecuting lawyer said three men got out of a car and repeatedly hit the victim with spades, hatchets and a wheel brace.

He suffered deep cuts to his leg and ankle, and required staples in wounds to the top of his head.

The prosecuting lawyer said "two of the witnesses who described the attack said they thought the injured party was going to be killed".

Police believe the attack was part of a feud between members of the Traveller community, the barrister said.

He also disclosed a series of alleged intimidation incidents since charges were brought in the case.

A gun attack was launched on the home of relatives of the victim, the court heard.

His wife was also allegedly warned that all her family, including the children, would be shot if charges were not withdrawn.

In a further incident the victim claimed a car pulled up beside him and a man inside told him to drop the case, warning "if not, your throat is going to be cut".

Opposing Ward's bid for temporary release to attend his son's christening on Sunday, the lawyer claimed it would give him an opportunity to interfere with witnesses.

The barrister added: "Police describe the intimidation against the injured party and his family as being severe."

But counsel for the defence said all alleged intimidation happened while Mr Ward was in custody.

Granting the application, the judge ruled that Mr Ward could be released for three hours to attend the church in Ballymena, County Antrim.

The judge ordered him to remain with his mother while out of prison and directed that a £2,500 cash surety must also be lodged.