Belleeks attack: Man ‘tried to suffocate partner’


A man has been remanded into custody accused of trying to kill his partner by suffocating her with a plastic bag, a quilt and duct tape.

Newry Magistrates’ Court also heard allegations that at one stage during the alleged attack in the early hours of Sunday morning, 44-year-old Patrick Doherty used both knees to pin his partner’s hands while sitting astride her holding a knife to her throat, calling on his friend to “ get the bin bags”.

Appearing in the dock on Monday with most of his left ear missing, bespectacled and bearded Doherty, from the Newry Road, Belleeks, was charged with the attempted murder of Rosemary Travers, threatening to kill her, trying to inflict grievous bodily harm, causing actual bodily harm, assaulting her and possessing a knife with intent to kill her.

During an opposed bail application, a PSNI officer outlined how police were first called to a fight on the Chancellors Road in Newry when a member of the public reported two men attacking a woman, grabbing her by the hair and punching her to the ground.

By the time police got to that incident, the victim had already left in a taxi but officers spoke to Doherty and his friend before letting them leave.

The detective continued, however, that at the home of Doherty’s 80-year-old mother at the Newry Road in Belleeks, Ms Travers was subjected to a terrifying ordeal, some of which was recorded on a 999 call, two hours after the initial incident.

Ms Travers has made a statement, the court heard, alleging that Doherty called her a “tout and a tramp” before punching her and kicking her in the head declaring “you’re not such a big woman now”.

His mother intervened and pulled him off, allowing the alleged victim to flee to the bathroom where she locked the door. But he forced his way in and continued the assault, putting a plastic bag over her face, replacing that with a quilt when she managed to pull it off and then putting duct tape over her mouth, only for his mother to pull him away again.

“After that she tried to hide behind a curtain,” said the officer, describing how with only one entrance and exit to the property “she had no chance of escape”.

Having “crept” into the living room, Ms Travers dialled 999 and left the phone off the hook but it was at that stage that Doherty allegedly came into the room armed with a knife.

Pinning her to the ground with his knees, “he threatened to bite her nose off and hack her to pieces”, trying to stab her hands as she “begged him to stop”.

“He told her to touch the blade to see how sharp it was,” claimed the officer, who revealed that even Doherty’s mother was “petrified” and feared that she herself would die.

Arrested and interviewed, Doherty denied trying to stab his alleged victim or suffocating her but told police “if I wanted to kill her I would have”.

The officer said police were objecting to bail on the grounds that Doherty would interfere with the witness, could reoffend as he has a previous conviction for GBH in 1995 when he stabbed a victim, has roots in Manchester so could easily abscond, and is “a danger to himself and the public”.

Under cross-examination from Doherty’s solicitor, the officer conceded that another man who was arrested had been released on police bail but countered that he is facing substantially less serious charges of aiding and abetting actual bodily harm and assault.

Refusing the bail application on the grounds of witness interference, risk of flight and further offences being committed, district judge Eamonn King remanded Doherty into custody to appear again on August 20 via videolink.

Describing the incident as a “degrading and terrifying assault,” the judge said the 999 recording would “graphically outline the nature of the threats perpetrated by the defendant” and that “what is even more disturbing is that the second more serious incident occurred in the presence of the defendant’s 80-year-old, ill mother”.