Burglary accused has attempted murder charge dropped

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A man accused of breaking into the home of a victim stabbed in the chest with a broken vodka bottle is no longer to be charged with his attempted murder, the High Court has heard.

Gary Kelly, 26, was granted bail after a judge was told allegations that he tried to kill the man at his south Belfast flat have been withdrawn.

Kelly, of Lavinia Mews in the city, now faces charges of burglary inflicting grievous bodily harm and robbery.

He is one of three men accused of involvement in the break-in at Dunluce Avenue in July last year.

Wounds inflicted in the early morning attack narrowly missed the victim’s heart.

Police believe he may have been targeted by mistake.

The 33-year-old told detectives he was woken by noises outside and people coming upstairs, the court heard.

When he went out into the hallway to investigate he said he was confronted by three men.

Prosecution counsel Kate McKay continued: “One of them immediately smashed a bottle over his head and then stabbed him repeatedly in the chest and arm with the broken bottle.

“The injured party was pleading for his life, then one of the males said ‘Sorry mate, wrong house’.”

A mobile phone, card reader and cash were stolen.

Kelly and his two co-accused were arrested in nearby areas of the city later that day.

Defence barrister Declan Quinn argued that Kelly was not caught at the scene, adding that the victim failed to pick him out at an identification process.

Mr Quinn also cited the lack of forensic evidence and reduced charge against his client in a case where he has spent seven months in custody.

Granting bail, Judge Gordon Kerr QC held that the removal of the attempted murder charge amounted to a change in circumstances.

“I do not consider the risk of similar offending is at a very high level,” he said.

Kelly was ordered to abide by a curfew and excluded from the area around the scene of the attack.