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Court rules that Carrickfergus man accused of suspected loyalist feud attack on bouncer cannot return to live in the town

Police at the scene of the Royal Oak Bar in Carrickfergus after a barman suffered serious head injuries. Picture by Ann McManus.

A Carrickfergus man accused of a suspected loyalist feud attack on a pub bouncer cannot return to live in the town, a High Court judge ruled today.

Ian Sinclair's bid to vary bail terms so he can see his housebound father was denied amid prosecution claims it could put public safety at risk.

But Mr Justice McCloskey also raised the possibility of limited future visits to the family home being agreed with police.

Sinclair (37) of Elizabeth Avenue in the town, is one of three men charged with causing grievous bodily harm with intent over the incident at the Royal Oak Bar in March this year.

A doorman allegedly beaten with a fire extinguisher suffered a blood clot to the brain, along with multiple skull and facial fractures, according to police.

Detectives also revealed at a previous hearing how he had to undergo physiotherapy for walking and talking skills.

Sinclair and his co-defendants were originally charged with attempted murder, but are now facing prosecution for the lesser alleged offence.

They are accused of launching an assault after being refused entry to the pub.

Police have linked the incident to ongoing tensions between rival factions in the town.

High-profile loyalist George Gimore was murdered days after the alleged pub attack.

Sinclair is on bail at an undisclosed location under conditions which include a ban on entering Carrickfergus.

Defence counsel insisted the request to be allowed back was not based on a "cavalier" attitude to his own safety.

"His father is essentially housebound," his lawyer told the court.

A Crown lawyer contended, however, that a feud involving paramilitary groups in Carrickfergus is ongoing.

Ruling on the variation request, Mr Justice McCloskey cited the well-documented "phenomenon" of town's loyalist paramilitary feud before refusing the call.

Despite the denial, the judge suggested Sinclair and the police could still reach agreement to enable pre-arranged visits to his father.

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