Man jailed for 11 months after he admitted stabbing another man during argument in Belfast city centre

 A man who started taking heroin when he was 12 was jailed for 11 months today after he admitted stabbing another man during an argument in the centre of Belfast

A MAN who started taking heroin when he was 12 was jailed for 11 months today after he admitted stabbing another man during an argument in the centre of Belfast.

Keith Byrne will spend an additional 11 months on licence when he is released from jail after appearing at Belfast Crown Court on three charges arising from last October's incident.

From Skegoniel Avenue in Belfast, 36-year old Byrne admitted wounding a man and punching his mother in the face during an altercation involving numerous people at the Castle Street/King Street junction.

Prosecuting barrister Mark Farrell said the stabbing occurred in the midst of an argument which broke out around 11.30am on October 17 2016.

During the melee, Byrne punched a woman in the face, and when the woman's son arrived at the scene, he and Byrne began arguing. Byrne then grabbed the other man's right arm and raised it up.

At the time, the victim believed Byrne punched him in the side several times - when in fact Byrne stabbed the other man and inflicted four separate wounds.

When the injured man realised he had been stabbed, Byrne fled the scene.

Mr Farrell said the man was taken to hospital for wounds which turned out to be superficial, adding it was clear the injured man "did not want to engage" while being treated, and didn't make a victim impact statement.

Byrne was arrested in the Victoria Parade area the following day, when he was searched and found to be in possession of a knife.

Mr Farrell told Belfast Crown Court: "There is no evidence this was the weapon used in the earlier attack."

The prosecutor said that when in police custody, Byrne said "I did stab him, four times", but during interview he largely refused to answer questions, denied making the earlier confession and at one stage claimed the injured man had stabbed himself and that he was being stitched up.

When asked about the weapon he was found with, he said it was a kitchen knife that popped into his pocket.

Byrne later admitted three offences - assaulting the woman, wounding her son and possessing the knife.

Defence barrister Con O'Neill cited the case as "unusual" and spoke of a lack of co-operation from the injured man.

Mr O'Neill spoke of his client's "unenviable background" and revealed that after first being introduced to heroin aged just 12, Byrne was "someone in the ravages of addiction."

Handing Byrne a 22-month sentence, Judge McFarland spoke of the defendant's criminal record on both sides of the border, but accepted it was "modest".

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