‘Partygoer attacked reveller with machete over missing phone’

Laganside Court Building in Belfast City centre
Laganside Court Building in Belfast City centre

A 19-year old man attacked a fellow reveller with a machete after a mobile phone went missing at a house party in north Belfast, a court has heard.

Caolan Curley, whose address was given as the Ormeau Day Centre on Belfast’s Verner Street, produced the weapon from his sleeve before slashing his victim across the face. The injury was so severe that the wounded man was left with exposed bone and muscle.

Curley appeared at Belfast Crown Court on Monday, where he pleaded guilty to a charge of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, and possession of an offensive weapon.

Crown prosecutor Tessa Kitson told the court that on the evening of April 20 last year, the victim met with a number of friends at a cafe on the city’s Royal Avenue. At some stage, Curley joined their company and when the cafe closed after midnight, Curley suggested that the group of revellers go back to his house in the New Lodge area for a party.

At some stage during the early hours of April 21, the victim and female friend fell asleep and when they woke up, the woman noticed that her iPhone - which had been charging when she fell asleep - was missing along with other items taken from her handbag.

After asking everyone at the party if they had seen her phone, she left the premises with the victim. He then returned to the flat and met Curley in a communal entrance. The man told Curley he was going to call the police and report the missing phone, at which point Curley produced them machete from his coat.

Mrs Kitson said Curley struck one “severe blow”, resulting in a laceration which ran from ear to cheek. The prosecutor told Judge Donna McColgan: “It is clear that the defendent was under the influence of drink, if not drink and drugs, at the time.”

Police and an ambulance were called to the scene and when he was arrested, Curley - who has previous convictions for violence - made no comment throughout police interviews.

Defence barrister Arthur Harvey QC said his young client had a troubled upbringing which was blighted by alcohol and neglect. He also told the court that while Curley pleaded guilty to the charges, the intent of the attack was “blurred due to the consumption of alcohol.”

Sentencing Curley to a six year period in detention - half of which will be served in custody with the remaining three years on licence - Judge McColgan said she accepted he had a “sad and unhappy upbringing” but said the unprovoked attack resulted in a “considerable injury” which has left the victim with a “significant scar.”