Northern Ireland

Badger baiting 'tout' beaten up near Newry

A man was beaten with metal bars in retaliation for giving information about an alleged badger baiting case, the High Court has been told.

The victim suffered head and leg injuries and had a wrist broken during the assault last Sunday near Newry.

A prosecution lawyer said the attackers continued to inflict blows even after he crawled under a jeep for protection.

Bail was refused to two men, who both deny grievous bodily harm with intent.

'Ran for safety

They are Paul McKeown, 41, of Lisgullion Park, Newry, and Christopher McFerran, 27, from Carrogs Road, Warrenpoint.

Lord Justice Higgins refused bail due to the risk of any further offences being committed or interference with the police investigation.

Prosecution lawyer Fiona O'Kane said the victim was at kennels on the Greenan Road on the outskirts of the city when two armed men launched their attack.

A farm labourer who witnessed the beating and urged them to stop had to run for safety when they turned towards him, the barrister claimed.

Windows in a van belonging to the victim were also smashed, she told the court.

'USPCA tout'

The barrister said the injured man, who is still in hospital, was able to name both the accused.

The victim claims the attack was in revenge for him giving a statement in a badger baiting investigation by the police and USPCA.

He alleges he has been the victim of ongoing harassment "by some parties unknown", the court heard.

During police interviews Mr McKeown denied being near the victim, whom he allegedly described as a "USPCA tout" with lots of enemies, the court was told.

Both accused insisted they attended a funeral and were then in a bar with others on the day of the assault, according to their lawyers.

Mr McKeown's barrister said his client has not been named in the baiting case, while counsel for Mr McFerran argued he had gone to police voluntarily and had no motive for interfering with the victim.

Refusing bail to both men, the judge described the assault as serious and sustained.

"Given the history of alleged harassment of the injured party and its connection with a previous but ongoing investigation in respect of another offence, that clearly raises a real risk of further offences and a real risk of interference with the present investigation," he said.

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