‘Fisticuffs’ between two brothers ended in stabbing

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Two brothers involved in a street brawl of “fisticuffs” during which one of them was stabbed twice, each blame the other for being armed with a knife, Belfast Crown Court has heard.

Denying charges of grievous bodily harm with intent, and possessing a knife on May 28, 2014, is 45-year-old Phillip James McDowell of Harper Sreet in the Short Strand area of the city.

Prosecution lawyer Rosemary Walsh said that while his brother Maurice Macdowell , 57, accepted he started the fight, he claimed it was Phillip who produced a folding knife from his pocket and stabbed him in the forearm and then in the back.

The lawyer later added, however, it was Phillip’s defence that his brother had the knife and threatened to cut his tongue out, and that his brother must have been stabbed during their struggle.

Ms Walsh said the dispute had its origin dating back over a year-and-a-half earlier with one brother accusing the other of a ‘betrayal of trust’.

On the day he was stabbed, Maurice MacDowell said it began as he had passed his brother in the street.

However, as he did so, he “struck out blindly”, hitting his brother on the head with the back of his hand.

His brother allegedly turned on him, and according to Maurice, had “what he described as fisticuffs ... but not much of a fight”.

Ms Walsh said McDowell then took a folding knife out of his pocket and began lunging it at his brother Maurice, who was initially stabbed in the forearm which he had raised to defend himself, and then in the left side of his back.

Judge Sandra Crawford and the jury were also told that while he lay bleeding in the street, Maurice allegedly called to his brother for help, but he walked on.

Mr Macdowell then managed to get to the nearby home of his sister who called an ambulance.

Ms Walsh said that Phillip McDowell agreed he had passed his brother Maurice in the street, but claimed as he did so, he was attacked from behind.

He tried to defend himself as the two of them “grappled” with one another, during which he had his jumper pulled off his head.

He further claimed it was his brother who then produced the knife, pointing it at his face and neck, threatening to cut out his tongue.

McDowell said at some point he felt he got control of the knife, but lost it again. However, he accepted his brother was stabbed, but claimed it must have been at some point during their struggle.

At hearing.