Northern Ireland

Man accused of trying to kill prominent republican Bobby Tohill

A man is to stand trial accused of trying to kill prominent republican Bobby Tohill by cutting his throat, a judge has ruled.

Thomas Valliday is alleged to have inflicted multiple neck and body wounds on the victim at a west Belfast bar.

He is also accused of attacking two women and a policeman, and being armed with a knife during an outbreak of violence on 15 March last year.

Valliday, 59, from Clonard Place in the city, denies the charges.

He is accused of attempted murder, wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, possession of an offensive weapon in public and assault on police.

Due to illness Mr Tohill did not attend Belfast Magistrates' Court to testify during a preliminary inquiry hearing.

A statement he made was instead admitted as part of the prosecution case.

Another alleged victim, Martine McVeigh, told how she was attacked after leaving a funeral wake on the Falls Road.

'Stab wounds'

Giving evidence from behind a screen, she claimed a man wearing a vest-top dragged her along the ground as she walked past the Celtic Bar.

"It seemed as if I was just grabbed from nowhere," she told the court.

"There was blood coming down the left side of my face, lots of blood."

Questioned about the extent of her injuries, she replied: "I had two stab wounds to my head on the left side and a stab wound just below my right ear.

"I got five staples in the head wound and four stitches on the neck wound."

She described her attacker as having a stocky build, flat, broken nose and moustached.

Asked if she knew him, Ms Mcveigh replied: "Yes. Ta Valliday."

Her aunt, Angela Wright, was also allegedly assaulted the same night.

Defence barrister Ian Turkington challenged the strength of her account, claiming she had not identified her assailant.

It was not conceded that prima facie evidence has been established against Valliday on any of the charges.

However, District Judge Mervyn Bates ruled there was a case to answer on all counts.

Valliday, who is on bail, declined to give evidence or call witnesses at this stage in the proceedings.

He was returned for trial at Belfast Crown Court on a date to be fixed.

Judge Bates refused an application to allow him to return to his family home from his current bail address in south Belfast.

But he certified a defence request for two barristers to represent him at trial, citing the "complexity and seriousness" of the case.