A County Tyrone man currently remanded on bail for alleged offending late last year has appeared in court on what was described as a “spate of offending” which appears to have culminated in a male relative being savagely attacked.
John McDonagh (30) of Cathedral Close, Clogher is charged with inflicting grievous bodily harm, burglary, taking a car without consent causing damage, driving while unfit and having no insurance,
A detective constable told Strabane Magistrates’ Court all charges could be connected.
He explained matters related to, “a spate of offending which was alerted to police at 11pm on 2 January police following a disturbance in Clogher. While travelling to this a further report was received of a vehicle being stolen from a property close by.”
The stolen vehicle was located crashed at Annaghilla Road, Ballygawley and McDonagh was allegedly located nearby, intoxicated and with bloodstained clothing.
As part of enquiries police attended McDonagh’s home and discovered a seriously assaulted male.
Part of his right ear had been bitten off, there was a stab wound to his upper back, bites to his arms and torso and cuts to his head.
He was taken to hospital and alleged the injuries were caused by McDonagh, who is his cousin.
Meanwhile it emerged McDonagh was allegedly seen checking vehicle door handles in the area before entering a house, in which the owner allegedly saw him steal keys and take their car.
During interview the defendant denied any role in the assault and insisted he did not enter any house nor take any car keys.
Instead, he claimed another male had picked him up in Clogher in a Jeep which he drove away before crashing and running from the scene.
Objecting to bail the detective voiced concerns of witness interference and risk of reoffending, particularly as McDonagh is currently on bail for unrelated matters.
A defence solicitor told the court his client has made an allegation of serious assault by his cousin and has provided a statement to that effect.
The detective constable was aware of McDonagh making this allegation but could not confirm if the cousin has been spoken to about it as he is still in hospital.
He was, however, able to confirm the cousin has not provided a written statement as regards his claim of McDonagh attacking him.
The defence contended the victim has confirmed drinking two litres of vodka prior to the incident and McDonagh, “has been horrendously assaulted. His front teeth were knocked out and there is bruising and bite-marks all over his body. It appears police have decided not to speak to the cousin about this and I’m unsure why. I would have thought such a serious allegation should be followed through and investigated. For some reason that hasn’t been done.”
Asked why this hasn’t happened the detective replied, “I’m sorry, I can’t explain that.”
The defence said, “There’s no doubt something happened in that house. My client tried to break up a fight between his cousin and another male. In the process, the cousin turned on my client and attacked him causing serious injuries. There is a self-defence case open to him.”
District Judge Oonagh Mullan remarked, “This isn’t satisfactory. Somebody from police should have been here to provide a proper factual background.”
Despite the severity of the charges and police objections, she decided to release McDonagh as, “the investigation hasn’t been as thorough as it should have been. There are gaps.”
She set bail at £1,000 and banned contact with the alleged injured party and the owner of the alleged stolen car.
The case will be mentioned again at Dungannon Magistrates’ Court on 7 February.