Young woman’s face was slashed over same-sex relationship

Laganside Courts, Belfast.  Pic: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker 22/5/2013

Laganside Courts, Belfast. Pic: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker 22/5/2013

A woman’s face was slashed repeatedly in a suspected hate crime over being in a same-sex relationship with her alleged attackers’ teenage daughter, the High Court heard today.

The victim claims she was cut with a knife after accepting she was to be “punished” at a meeting with the girl’s parents near a police station in Lurgan, Co Armagh.

Prosecutors said she will probably be permanently scarred from the wounds inflicted on May 29.

Details emerged as bail was refused to another man allegedly linked to the knifing.

Simon McDonagh, 32, of Carnmore Rise in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, faces charges of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and possession of an offensive weapon.

He denies knowing any knife attack was to be carried out on the victim, understood to be in her late twenties, at a car park on William Street.

McDonagh instead claims he thought the couple were merely going to “have it out” with the woman, believing only that she may “get a few slaps”.

The victim told police she became aware on May 26 that McDonagh’s two co-accused, a husband and wife, were planning to harm her.

Prosecution counsel Conor Maguire said this was because she was in a relationship with their daughter.

She claims to have evaded the couple for three days before going to Lurgan Police Station in fear and an attempt to find a safe place.

According to her account she was then phoned and told the couple had arrived in the town with McDonagh to look for her.

It was alleged that during the call she was informed: “We are coming to get you, if we have to stay here a month we will get you.”

Mr Maguire claimed she told police she was afraid and knew she was going to be punished, but gave up because she just wanted it over with.

“She said these people wouldn’t relent until they had found her,” the barrister added.

The victim said she walked to a car park where the waiting couple both grabbed her amid attempts to pull her into a vehicle while McDonagh remained inside.

At that point the man allegedly urged his wife: “Cut the face off her or I’m going to do it.”

It was claimed the female accused then produced a carpet knife and slashed the woman’s face several times.

“She said she pleaded with (the female accused) not to cut her, and that she was screaming and struggling,” Mr Maguire told the court.

She claimed to have fled when the couple eventually let her go.

Madam Justice McBride was told the woman sustained several lacerations to her face, requiring a total of 14 stitches.

Her wounds will require further medical treatment and are likely to result in permanent scarring, according to the prosecutor.

Mr Maguire also submitted: “Police believe this is a hate crime (carried out) because the injured part was in a same-sex relationship with (the couple’s) daughter.”

Defence counsel Seamus Lannon argued that McDonagh went with the couple to Lurgan without any knowledge of the extent of any alleged attack.

“On his instructions this was to be a verbal exchange, there was no question that this lady was going to be knifed in any shape or form,” he said.

Mr Lannon added that his client reassured her he would not anyone hurt her, and also told the other man to stay out of it while the two women talked through their issues.

Challenging any joint-enterprise case against McDonagh, the barrister continued: “By the time he got out of the car the damage was done.”

But refusing bail, the judge cited the potential risks of re-offending and interfering with the course of justice.