Bail refused to man accused of attempting to murder ex-partner

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A Newtownards man accused of trying to kill his ex-partner has been refused bail due to a “well-founded” fear he would interfere with the investigation.

Appearing handcuffed in a grey tracksuit at Downpatrick Magistrates’ Court, 29-year-old Jeff Stitt was charged with the attempted murder of Zoe Johnston on Saturday.

Stitt, from Blenheim Drive in Ards, spoke only to confirm that he understood the single charge against him.

A PSNI officer told the court how police were called to a property on Thomas Street just after 12.45 on Saturday afternoon by an ambulance crew who were treating the victim.

Stitt was arrested at the scene and Miss Johnston was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital where she was treated for a “deep stab wound to her neck,” as well as wounds to her abdomen, left arm and right hand.

The officer revealed the victim is still in the intensive care unit in a critical condition, had undergone surgery for a perforated windpipe and pierced lung, and doctors had inserted a pipe “to assist with her breathing”.

Bail was refused despite the offer of a bail address with Stitt’s sister in Blackpool, and he was remanded in custody to appear by video link on February 2.