Slashing of girls face ‘a hate crime’ due to her sexuality, court told

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A young woman who was slashed in the face in Lurgan had been in a lesbian relationship with a relative of the accused, Lisburn Magistrates Court heard.

The stabbing on Sunday evening is being treated as a hate crime because of the victim’s sexuality.

Appearing in the dock on Tuesday morning were Simon McDonagh (33) from Carnmore Rise, Enniskillen, James Ward (41) Lawne Park, Ballyshannon, Co Donegal and his wife Geraldine Ward (42) of the same address.

The three are accused of causing grievous bodily harm and possession of an offensive weapon on Sunday May 29.

A detective constable expressed grave concerns for the victim’s safety if the defendants were released.

He explained that police received reports that a woman had been stabbed in William St, Lurgan.

He added the woman was in a relationship with a female relative of the defendants.

The court heard the victim met McDonagh in Lurgan centre and went with him to meet the Wards in William St car park.

McDonagh got into the passenger seat of the car and told police he saw an altercation between the Wards and the injured party.

The detective said the woman suffered deep lacerations to her face which will require further treatment.

McDonagh’s defence solictor said his client was less involved than his co-accused and cooperated with police while the Wards did not comment.

He said his client maintains the injured party had contacted him and met him and that she walked to William St of her own volition knowing the Wards would be there.

He said his client did not see a knife during the altercation.

Judge Rosemary Watters said they were all ‘inextricably linked’.

The defence lawyer said his client did not see the knives until after the altercation and they were thrown out of the car.

After being questioned by the PSNI McDonagh went with police and told them where to find the knives.

He claims not to have known what would happen and added that he has a threat on his life in the Republic of Ireland.

Requesting bail McDonagh said he had wanted to help the victim and there had been a lot of concern in the Travelling Community.

He was refused bail.

The bail hearing against the Wards was held separately at the same court.

A female detective constable objected to bail on a number of levels including potential interference with witnesses and reoffending.

Under cross examination, she revealed that the victim had been concerned the defendants had travelled from Ballyshannon and over a few days travelled across the north of Ireland to seek her out and attack her.

“This occurred in a public car park in broad daylight,” she said.

Judge Watters said she was concerned that the defendants would not turn up.

The defence barrister said the Wards had six young children at home plus four others who were adults including three in France.

They offered the court 7,500 euro surety, however this was rejected by Judge Watters who denied bail.

All three are remanded in custody to appear at Craigavon Magistrates Court on June 17.