Man brandishing a needle and claiming to have HIV tried to rob people in Belfast city centre, court is told

Court reportCourt report
Court report
​A man brandishing a needle in Belfast city centre stabbed and tried to rob members of the public amid claims he had HIV, a court heard today.

​Shaun Patrick Tracey, 37, is accused of targeting three men in separate incidents on Great Victoria Street earlier this month. Police revealed one injured party was taken to hospital to be treated for possible blood infection.

Tracey, of no fixed abode, denies charges of possessing an offensive weapon, wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, and two counts of attempted robbery.

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Belfast Magistrates’ Court heard one of the victims was stabbed outside Robinson’s Bar shortly after midnight on May 6. “He was approached by a male with a bag in his hand who jabbed him in the arm with something,” an investigating detective said.

The assailant then crossed the road and demanded money from two other men, producing a needle and making similar threats towards both of them. “He stated it was a used needle and that he had HIV,” the detective added.

No money was handed over and neither of those complainants sustained any injuries.

Tracey was arrested after being identified as the alleged perpetrator.

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Opposing his application for bail, police claimed he poses a threat to the public by having used a needle as a weapon.

“This was a completely unprovoked attack on members of the public who were having a night out in the city centre,” the detective contended.

“One injured party had to be taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital and given a course of treatment for potential blood infection.”

As Tracey sought to be released on bail, defence barrister Michael Boyd acknowledged it was a “difficult” application.

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“He accepts that he was in the area, but denies being the assailant,” Mr Boyd confirmed.

Bail was refused based on the risk of re-offending and risk of harm to the general public. Remanding Tracey in custody until June 18, District Judge Steven Keown said: “It’s about as worrying (a case) as it gets.”