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Belfast boxer Caoimhin Hynes has face and neck slashed in knife attack

Brendan Hughes

A YOUNG boxer is considered lucky to be alive after being sliced near his neck in a stabbing at McDonald's in Belfast city centre.

Caoimhin Hynes (20) was at the fast-food outlet with his girlfriend following a night out when he was seriously assaulted yesterday during the early hours.

He was attacked by a group of men wearing tracksuits and suffered a large cut along his cheek and neck. Police have appealed for witnesses.

The west Belfast sportsman is regarded as a rising star in boxing and just last month clinched gold at a major tournament in France.

Images of Caoimhin Hynes in hospital were posted on Facebook by his brother

His coach Michael Hawkins, who visited Mr Hynes in hospital yesterday, said he was fortunate to have survived as the wound was near a main artery in his neck.

"He was Montana belt champion in Paris last week, and we could have been burying him this week," he said.

"It's a bad injury but thank God he's okay. He is very, very fortunate."

Images of Caoimhin Hynes in hospital were posted on Facebook by his brother

Mr Hawkins said it's thought a blade or knife may have been used in the attack at Donegall Place.

"He was in a queue going into McDonald's in the centre of town. There was a bit of an argument and somebody came in from the side and nearly cut his throat – there is a good five-inch wound to his face," he said.

"It must have been horrific for the people who were first on site. You wouldn't have held up much hope for him at that stage."

Mr Hawkins described the middleweight amateur boxer as a "role model" to youngsters at Holy Trinity boxing club.

Images of Caoimhin Hynes in hospital were posted on Facebook by his brother

"There is no way Caoimhin would be starting anything. Caoimhin doesn't drink and he has never taken drugs in his life. I can say that without fear of contradiction," he said.

He added: "He is going to go through another operation to tidy up the wound.

"They're just looking to get that sorted out and as soon as they get that sorted hopefully he will be on the mend from then onwards."

In a post online, Holy Trinity boxing club said he was in "good spirits" but was "very lucky to be alive".

His brother Eoaghan yesterday posted pictures on Facebook from hospital.

Images of Caoimhin Hynes in hospital were posted on Facebook by his brother

"Just to let everyone know.. bro got knifed/sliced. He's sleeping now and will have surgery this morning," he wrote online.

"All I know is a group in tracksuits started on him and his girlfriend at McDonald's. We're in Dundonald hospital.

"His phone and wallet are missing so if anyone who was with him [or] knows anything please get in contact.

"God is great. Love you bro, warrior."

The PSNI said: "Shortly before 2.50am police received a report of an ongoing altercation involving a number of people in Donegall Place.

"A 20-year-old male sustained a wound to his cheek after he was assaulted by a number of males wearing tracksuits. He is currently in hospital receiving treatment."

Co Antrim coach Michael Hawkins with Caoimhin Hynes, James McGivern and Seamus Og Deeds at the Montana Belts tournament in Paris

Detective inspector Paul Rowland urged anyone with information to contact officers at Musgrave police station on 101 quoting reference 165 of 01/05/17, or phone Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Meanwhile, police in Derry have appealed for witnesses after a man suffered an injury to his ear yesterday in a serious assault.

Police said that the 32-year-old was involved in an altercation with two men in an upstairs bar of Granny Annie's on Waterloo Street.

He received treatment in hospital following the incident, which was reported to police shortly before 1am.

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