Two men were attacked with hatchets in an “extremely violent” incident linked to a “tit-for-tat….ongoing feud” between gangs in Newry, a court heard today (Friday).
Lisburn Magistrates Court also heard that, according to medics who treated the victims, the assailants had tried to decapitate one of the men who was left with a fractured skull and a 12-centimetre laceration to the back of his neck.
Appearing at court by videolink from police custody, 27-year-old Jamie Gallogly was charged with two counts of attempted murder, aggravated burglary, criminal damage and possessing a weapon on June 1 this year.
Detective Constable Glenn said he believed he could connect Gallogly to each of the charges, adding that his application for bail was opposed due to the risk of further offences being committed.
According to the police case, the victims were asleep in a mobile home on the Moorhill Road in Newry when two masked and hooded men armed with hatchets smashed their way in and attacked them.
A brother of one of the victims told police he heard a disturbance outside his house and when he went to investigate, he saw the two men leaving and running to a waiting car which sped off with the “wheels spinning”.
DC Glenn said that a short time later, a car was found on fire two miles away, adding that Gallogly was arrested at his home on Main Street in Belleeks after both victims named him as one of the attackers.
When officers arrived at the address, they “noted a strong smell of bleach,” there were “remnants of a fire” smouldering in the grate and they also spotted a “small spot of blood” which has been sent for forensic analysis.
Turning to the injuries the men sustained, the officer said the victim who suffered the attempted decapitation had also sustained a fractured skull, a punctured lung and “significant damage to the bones in his left hand”.
The other victim had sustained “life-changing injuries” including a fractured skull, two punctured lungs as well as “severe lacerations…caused by a bladed instrument”.
“This was a deliberate, targeted and violent attack on the victims resulting in extreme injuries that are life-threatening,” said the officer. “Essentially we believe it’s linked to an going feud between gangs in Newry.”
The detective said police believed the hatchet attack was linked to an incident last month when an associate of Gallogly had acid thrown over him and also to a shooting in Newry in January.
“We fear there’s going to be further offences and further attacks as a result of this feud and there may be retaliation at Mr Gallogly as it seems to be tit-for-tat,” he told the court.
Under cross examination from defence counsel Aaron Thompson, DC Glenn agreed that Gallogly provided an alibi account that he had been staying at a friend’s house that night but the officer highlighted that friend had been spoken to but his timings would still have provided an opportunity for Gallogly’s involvement.
Mr Thompson put to the detective that the victims had named Gallogly in very short body worn clips in circumstances where they were “medicated” ahead of surgery, but DC Glenn said he couldn’t comment whether the men had been “anaesthetised” at the time.
The barrister conceded that with descriptions of masked and hooded men, the issue of identification and how well the victims know Gallogly “is for another day” but he argued that with a £10,000 cash sheet and addresses outside of the area available, the defendant could be granted bail.
District Judge Eamon King said the “main concern” of the police is that the feud has “escalated” to an alleged attempted murder bid and that it could get worse.
“I’m going to add to that,” said the judge. “There’s a further risk here of interference with witnesses given the context of the offence that there’s an ongoing dispute between opposing groups in the Newry area.”
Refusing bail, he said “there are no conditions that could satisfy me that the risk would be managed” and remanding Gallogly into custody, DJ King adjourned the case until June 29.