Brothers jailed for ‘vicious’ murder attempt


Two brothers were jailed on Wednesday for attempting to murder a former brother-in-law of one of the men in a “vicious, unprovoked, cowardly attack”.

Joseph Henry was stabbed and almost died after he was attacked outside his home in the Markets area of Belfast on July 2, 2011.

Hugh James McCormick (50) of Rosevale Street in Belfast and his 46-year-old brother James Martin McCormick, of Teeling Avenue, Dunmurry denied the offence, but were found unanimously guilty by a jury earlier this year of the knife and crowbar attack.

While Hugh - who has a previous conviction for a knife attack - was handed a 15-and-a-half year sentence, his brother James - who has four children with one of Mr Henry’s sisters - was given a 14-and-a-half year sentence.

Both men were informed that they will serve half the term in prison, with the remainer on supervised licence when they are released from jail.

During Wednesday’s sentencing at Belfast Crown Court, Mr Justice Colton said that the continual denial of involvement by the brothers demonstrated both a lack of remorse and a lack of responsibility for their behaviour.

The Judge added: “It is particularly chilling that the defendants carried out this assault in broad daylight, on a person whom they knew, and at a place where the other occupants in the house also knew them.

“It appears that they felt they could carry out such an assault immune from being held accountable for their crime.”

Mr Justice Colton also said that he regarded both men as being “equally involved and equally to blame”.

Mr Henry, who did not attend Wednesday’s proceedings, almost died from a serious stab wound to his neck.

During the trial, which was held at Belfast Crown Court in September, the jury heard how Mr Henry was hit over the head with a crowbar and stabbed in the neck by the McCormick brothers, who arrived at his house looking for a relative.

Mr Henry told the jury he was attacked outside his Eliza Street Terrace home at around 8am as he stood having a cigarette. The victim said Hugh McCormick hit him on the head with a crowbar while James McCormick produced a 12-inch knife which he then stuck in Mr Henry’s neck.

As a result of the attack, Mr Henry lost two litres of blood, required a blood transfusion and remained in hospital for three weeks.

Branding the injuries as “life-threatening”, Mr Justice Colgan paid tribute to both Mr Henry’s resolve, and the work undertaken and care given by the medics who looked after him.

Speaking after the sentences were passed, Detective Inspector Mary White from the PSNI’s Reactive and Organised Crime Branch said: “Knife crime is unacceptable. Many people think it is acceptable to carry a knife. They are wrong.

“Some people believe a knife is a status symbol, something that makes them more acceptable to their peers. For some, it is seen as a form of protection, but nothing can protect them from the consequences of carrying or using a knife. The fact is that knives are dangerous - people get hurt and lives and communities can be ruined.

“Today’s sentences demonstrate the courts will not tolerate knife crime and that there are serious consequences, not only for victims, but also for perpetrators. We will continue to work with local communities to highlight the issue of knife crime.”