Stamping accused said fight coma victim ‘was acting the big man’

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A man accused of stamping on his friend’s head told police the alleged victim had “acted the big man”, the High Court has heard.

Steven McBrine, 32, is also accused of inflicting repeated kicks as the pair fought outside his flat in east Belfast last week.

The other man, aged in his 20s, remains in a coma after being taken to hospital by an off-duty nurse who spotted him in a dazed and bloodied state.

McBrine, of Fraser Pass in the city, is charged with causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

His lawyer claimed he acted amid fears his friend may have been carrying a knife.

But refusing bail, a judge cited the risk of any further offences being committed.

Both men had returned to McBrine’s flat with an unidentified woman after meeting up in Belfast city centre on August 25.

David Russell, prosecuting, said a fight inside the property then spilled out onto a communal car park where violent exchanges were captured on CCTV.

Footage showed the other man throwing the first punch, with the pair “giving as good as they got”.

But the court heard McBrine then forced his friend to the ground before aiming kicks to his head.

He followed that up by stamping on the alleged victim, according to the prosecution.

A short time later a nurse saw the injured man walking on the lower Newtownards Road in a daze.

She drove him to accident and emergency, only for his condition to deteriorate.

It was confirmed that he remains in a coma since losing consciousness in hospital.

Mr Justice Deeny was told that during police interviews McBrine either could not or would not name the woman who had been at the apartment.

“He said that while (the alleged victim) was at the flat he became abusive and in McBrine’s words ‘acted the big man’,” Mr Russell added.

Defence counsel Taylor Campbell claimed it was “a case of six of one and half a dozen of the other” after the other man started the fight.

Referring to his client’s concerns about a possible knife, the barrister contended that his client may have been in an “excited state”.

He stressed, however: “It’s not a case of an unprovoked attack or a planned attack.

“It seems to be a case of two rough customers being in an argument which turned violent at the behest of the injured party.”

But ruling that McBrine must remain in custody, the judge held: “The prosecution are entitled to say there’s a very real risk of offending.”