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Belfast attack victim remains in coma, court hears

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The full extent of damage inflicted on a man whose head was punched and stamped on is still to be determined, the High Court has heard.

Conor Lewsley has remained unconscious in hospital since being allegedly hit 16 times in a matter of seconds.

The 24-year-old underwent surgery to relieve swelling on his brain following the attack in north Belfast early on February 23.

But as the man accused of trying to kill him was refused bail on Tuesday, a prosecution lawyer indicated that medical staff have not yet been able to fully assess his injuries.

Kate McKay said: “The damage that has been done cannot really be estimated until he comes to and they can see what effect it has had.”

Ben Cullinan, 23, faces a charge of attempting to murder Mr Lewsley on the city’s Antrim Road.

Cullinan, of Glenville Park, Newtownabbey, is further accused of assaulting another man in the same incident, cultivating cannabis and possessing Class B drugs with intent to supply.

The court heard that just before the attack Mr Lewsley and three friends had called at the Antrim Road home of Seamus McGranaghan, a 31-year-old facing assault and drugs charges.

They left when Cullinan answered the door in his boxer shorts and told them McGranaghan was in bed, according to the prosecution.

It was claimed that within minutes the two accused followed the group and launched their attack.

CCTV footage allegedly shows Cullinan force Mr Lewsley to the ground.

Mrs McKay claimed: “He (Cullinan) then climbed on top of him and punched him continuously. It was counted that he punched him 16 times.

“He then got up on his feet and stamped on the head of Conor Lewsley with force.”

By the time police arrived paramedics were already treating the semi-conscious victim, the court was told.

Follow-up inquiries led to the discovery of 16 cannabis plants in McGranaghan’s flat.

Opposing bail, Mrs McKay claimed there was a potential to interfere with witnesses in the case, including Mr Lewsley.

She added: “He has yet to give his witness statement, if he’s ever in a position to do so.”

Richard Greene, defending, acknowledged a prima facie case has been established against his client.

But he argued that Cullinan must still be presumed innocent and should be granted bail.

The court heard how the accused works for his father as a stage rigger at conferences and major arena events north and south of the border.

Mr Justice Horner accepted Cullinan has a stable working background.

But the judge also pointed out: “There’s clearly prima facie evidence that he was involved in what can only be described as an horrendous attack which involved multiple blows being delivered to the injured party both with fist and foot.”

Refusing bail, he added: “There’s also the question of a risk of interference with the eye witnesses and the fact the injured party has not yet regained consciousness.”

 
 
 

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