Failure to charge bouncers over alleged blinding assault is challenged

A man partially blinded in an alleged assault outside a nightclub is taking legal action in a bid to have doormen face criminal charges.

Thursday, 17th June 2021, 3:07 pm
Updated Thursday, 17th June 2021, 3:36 pm
Laganside court complex in Belfast city centre.

Paul Conlon was granted High Court permission to challenge a decision not to prosecute two members of staff at the premises in Co Down. He sustained life-changing injuries during the altercation in August 2019, including being blinded in one eye.

Two doormen interviewed by police claimed they acted in self-defence and said others had kicked Mr Conlon while he was on the ground, the court was told.

Last year the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) decided against charging either bouncer. Based on mobile phone footage and any other available evidence, the authority concluded there was no reasonable prospect of securing convictions.

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Mr Conlon launched legal proceedings after the PPS reviewed and upheld its original determination.

With police said to have recommended prosecuting the alleged assailants, his lawyers claim the decision subsequently taken was irrational, lacking in reasons and in breach of human rights.

“The decision of the PPS not to prosecute those responsible for this attack, apparently on the basis of self-defence and without any or any sufficient inquiry, was and remains indefensible and wholly unjustified and gives rise to a breach of the applicant’s private life and his right not to be subjected to inhuman/degrading treatment,” they said.

Judges sitting at the High Court in Belfast granted leave to seek a judicial review into the legality of the determination. With the case set to proceed to a full hearing later this year, Mr Conlon’s solicitor welcomed their ruling.

Darragh Mackin of Phoenix Law said: “Those doormen who allegedly inflicted these horrendous injuries on our client are one step closer to facing trial.

“Such actions demand accountability, and those responsible should face the full force of the law for their actions.”

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