'Violent offenders' accused of vicious assault remanded in custody after police object to bail

Court reportCourt report
Court report
​Two "violent offenders'' have been remanded in custody over a vicious assault they allegedly carried out on a male who curled up into the foetal position to protect himself.

Belfast Magistrates' Court was told police CCTV operators spotted the attack in Belfast's Castle Street late in the evening of Monday, July, 8, 2024.

Appearing in the dock of the overnight remand court handcuffed and dressed in grey tops and tracksuit bottoms were Scott Axon and Thomas Hannaphy.

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Axon (31), and Hannaphy (28), both of no fixed abode, were jointly charged with attempted grievous bodily harm with intent. Hannaphy was further accused of possessing an offensive weapon in a public place, namely a bottle.

A police officer connected both defendants to the charges and told the court he was objecting to them being released on bail.

The officer told the court that at 11.23 pm police CCTV operators saw the victim involved in a "small verbal altercation with a group in Castle Street.''He added: "The victim is seen to place a bottle by the entrance to a side street or alleyway where the other group were last seen to walk. He repeatedly goes in and out of the alleyway and appears to be involved in a continual confrontation, albeit verbal at this point.

"The victim is then seen to emerge at speed from the alleyway. He lifted the bottle and raised it above his head in an aggressive manner. At this point Axon restrains the victim before taking him to the ground. The victim moves into the foetal position and raises his arms and hands around his head in a purely defensive position.

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"He doesn't appear to be offering any aggression or violence at this point. He was repeatedly punched by Axon while on the ground.

"Another male, identified as Hannaphy, runs from the alleyway and kicks and punches the victim while on the ground. Axon also kicks at the head of the injured party while he is prone on the ground.

"Hannaphy then lifts the glass bottle and strikes the victim twice to the back of the head. Hannaphy also punches the victim to the face. Both defendants were identified from the CCTV footage.''

He said police were objecting to bail as both were of no fixed abode and no address had been put forward for either defendant.

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The officer told Judge Steven Keown that Axon has a "significant'' criminal record with 65 previous convictions with seven entries for "serious assaults''

"Police have concerns that if released on bail he will continue to commit further offences. There is also a requirement to protect the injured party and the public.''He said Hannaphy has 17 previous convictions with entries for common assault, assault on police and one "serious assault''.

The officer added that Hannaphy is currently the subject of a suspended sentence which has now been breached.

The officer confirmed to Axon's defence solicitor Eoghan McKenna that his client has no other matters pending and was not in breach of any suspended sentence.

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Mr McKenna said the injured party had refused to make a statement to police and later signed himself out of hospital.

"It looks like there will be some difficulty in obtaining medical evidence in relation to this case in terms of the consent of the alleged injured party,'' said Mr McKenna.A defence solicitor for Hannaphy said he was willing to abide by any condition imposed to secure his bail.

Judge Keown said: "This is an allegation of extreme violence by two prolific and violent offenders. Bail is refused due to the risk of reoffending. In my view bail is unmanageable.''

Both defendants were remanded to Maghaberry prison until their next court appearance on Wednesday, August 7.