A 35-year old man was jailed on Tuesday for stabbing another man in a fight which erupted following a long-standing dispute between neighbours.
John Robert William Long was sent to prison for an incident which occurred in a block of flats in north Belfast where both the injured party and Long’s partner resided.
Belfast Crown Court heard that following a long history of bad blood between both parties, a fight between Long and the injured party broke out after the injured party threw a mat covered in dog dirt against Long’s partner’s door.
When she went to speak to the injured party, they became embroiled in an argument. When Long became involved, a fight between the two men broke out. Despite neither being the aggressor nor bringing a knife to the fight, Long stabbed the other man several times in the neck, torso and arms.
Sending Long to prison, Her Honour Judge McCaffrey spoke of the seriousness of the wounds sustained by the injured party, who required surgery and blood transfusions following the stabbing on June 5, 2014.
Long - who at the time of the offence lived in north Belfast but who now lives on Main Street in the Co Tyrone village of Beragh - pleaded guilty to a charge of wounding the other man with intent to do him grievous bodily harm.
Despite the plea, Long has always made the case that he was not the aggressor, that he didn’t bring the knife to the scene and that he acted in self-defence.
Saying she accepted that there was “an element of provocation” by the injured party prior to the fight, Judge McCaffrey rejected the self-defence claims and said Long’s actions were “disproportionate”.
Pointing out that the injured party was stabbed multiple times, including wounds to his neck, Judge McCaffrey told Long: “You must have been aware at some point during the fight of the presence of the knife, and you decided in the spur of the moment to use it.”
Judge McCaffrey noted that the events of June 5, 2014 were the culmination of a “long-standing neighbours dispute” between the injured man and Long’s partner, particularly regarding the injured man, his dog and dog dirt at the block of flats they both lived in.
On the day in question, an argument about the issue broke out, and after the injured man threw the mat covered in dogs dirt at the woman’s door, the row escalated.
Handing Long a sentence of two years and eight months - which will be split between 16 months in prison and 16 months on licence upon release - Judge McCaffrey said she was taking into account the fact Long came before the court with a clear record.
As Long was being escorted from the dock by prison staff, the injured party clapped from the public gallery.