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Man accused of telling 13-year-old boy to ‘get on his knees and pray’ before striking him with candlestick

The boy claimed the man had told him to 'get on his knees and pray' before striking him in the face with a gold object

A man who is accused of striking a 13-year-old boy whilst in possession of a gold candlestick holder has been refused bail.

Representing himself, the 46-year-old, who has previous convictions for common assault, told court:  “I am not who I was. If you turn the page of a book you have a different story, especially if it is the last page of a book and you start another.”

Christopher John Stewart, of no fixed abode, appeared charged with two counts of common assault and possession of an offensive weapon in a public place at Armagh Magistrates’ Court, sitting at Newry.

Appearing via videolink from police custody, the defendant confirmed that he understood the charges and was connected to the same by a constable.

Stewart informed the court that he wished to represent himself and wished to apply for bail, which was opposed to by police.

The constable outlined that on March 15, police received a report of an alleged assault at Tesco in Newry.

Officers arrived and spoke to a 13-year-old boy and girl who claimed that they had been victims of an assault by a male wearing a bandana.

They stated they had been on their way to Tesco and had gone to an abandoned house on Donwshire Road with two other children. A male then chased them from the property and followed them to the Tesco store.

Whilst at the top of the escalator, the boy claimed this man had told him to “get on his knees and pray” before striking him in the face with a gold object.

Court heard he then turned and faced the young girl, causing her to fear that she too would be assaulted.

Officers attended the address on Downshire Road and spoke to this defendant, who matched the description given by the two alleged injured parties.

Stewart was arrested and during a subsequent search of the property a gold coloured candlestick holder was seized.

CCTV from the store which captured the incident was also obtained by police.

During interview at Banbridge Custody Suite, the defendant refused to speak or answer any of the questions which were put to him.

The constable stated bail was objected to as it was felt that Stewart was likely to commit further offences, with him having three previous convictions for assault and three for possession of an offensive weapon.

She also submitted that given that the defendant had been living at an “abandoned address” there would be concerns over his attendance at court.

Representing himself, Stewart stated: “I am a free man. I don’t cause any harm to anyone. Mr Stewart has done nothing wrong.”

When asked about his record, the defendant commented: “I am not who I was. If you turn the page of a book you have a different story, especially if it is the last page of a book and you start another.”

And he added: “If I had known you would have all been here I would have bought you some food and drink.”

Deputy District Judge Phlip Mateer commented that he felt the objections to bail were “made out” and remanded Stewart in custody to appear before Newry Magistrates’ on April 4.

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