Relatives remanded over 'axe attack'

Published Thursday, 03 July 2014
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A man was found by police with an ornamental axe still "embedded" in his back after he was allegedly attacked by his brother and nephew, a court has heard.

Relatives remanded over 'axe attack'
Both father and son were refused bail on Thursday. (© UTV)

Appearing in the dock of Downpatrick Magistrates' jointly charged with attempting to murder Christopher Daniel 'Gus' Lynch on Wednesday were his brother Martin Lynch, 42 and his 18-year-old nephew Sean-Paul Lynch.

The father and son, both with an address at Carraig View, Raholp in Downpatrick, are also jointly charged with possessing a baseball bat.

Martin Lynch faces a further allegation of causing actual bodily harm to his brother on 1 July while his son is also charged with causing criminal damage to a car belonging to Gus Lynch's partner, Elizabeth Clodagh Cunningham on the same date.

A detective constable told the court he believed he could connect the pair to each of the charges and during an unsuccessful bail application, outlined how the case arose from what appeared to be a family fight at the Lynchs' family home.

Police were first called to the house just before midnight on Tuesday by Martin Lynch's partner Caroline Fitzsimmons who reported a disturbance in that a glass had been smashed and Gus Lynch had received a head injury when Sean-Paul hit him with a beer can.

The father and son, allegedly armed with baseball bats, chased their victim from the scene and the couple left after Sean-Paul allegedly smashed a car window with a bat and Martin hit his brother on the head with his bat.

By the time officers arrived at the scene "all appeared to be calm at that stage," said the detective but he added there had been a second incident just over an hour later when Gus Lynch returned to the property and there was a "confrontation in the front garden."

According to the statement of Ms Cunningham, who was sitting in her car 50 yards away, the brothers were "grappling" on the ground when Sean-Paul "appear[ed] to have swiped at his [Gus'] back" and it is when he got back to his partner's car that she noticed an injury to his back.

Martin's partner Caroline Fitzsimmons had again called police and the detective said when officers arrived at the scene, Gus was "lying face down in the rear passenger seat and they could immediately see there was an axe imbedded in his lower back".

Shown the photographs of the injury, District Judge Greg McCourt said it looked as though the weapon was imbedded around five inches deep into his back and that he was "very lucky" it had missed vital organs and his spinal cord.

The detective told the court that 45-year-old Gus remains in the Ulster Hospital but that his injuries are not life-threatening.

Arrested and interviewed, neither Martin nor Sean-Paul answered police questions, choosing instead to make "no comment" to police enquiries.

Revealing that the father and son were on bail for serious assault at the time of the incident and have relevant criminal convictions, the detective said police were objecting to bail as they believed the pair would commit further offences if released and given the relationship between them and the alleged victim, could interfere with witnesses and the investigation.

Under cross examination from solicitor Darren Duncan, the officer agreed that Martin Lynch, who was sporting a heavy black eye to his left eye which was swollen closed, received an injury himself and that a hammer was recovered from the foot well of Ms Cunningham's car.

He further agreed that at present, the only statement police had was from Ms Cunningham as Gus was still recovering from surgery to have the axe removed and neighbours had refused to talk to police "for fear of reprisals."

Mr Duncan said he had clear instructions that the only police witness so far was heavily intoxicated and that even when the axe is forensically examined, there will not be any evidence to link them to it.

"That is going to be key evidence in this case because clearly, the last person to touch that, their prints should be on that item," said the solicitor adding "they're telling me categorically that they did not touch it".

Submitting that the pair had a "workable defence," Mr Duncan said the investigation would take some considerable time and that stringent bail conditions could be put in place to allow them their freedom while that happens.

Refusing the applications however, Judge McCourt said the injury to Gus Lynch would has taken "some degree of heavy violence" and as both men "have records for violence," he was left with "no doubt that if released further offences may occur."

He ordered the pair to appear again by videolink on 31 July and as they were lead away in handcuffs, a weeping Caroline Fitzsimmons called out "I love you" to Martin Lynch.

© UTV News
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