Man sentenced for West Belfast stabbing after row over cigarette

A west Belfast man who stabbed another man in the face following an early morning row over a cigarette has been sentenced to three-years.

Gareth Bradley left his victim with a 'large gaping laceration' above his right eye as well as defensive wounds to his hand after a row broke out between two groups at a petrol station on the Andersonstown Road.

The 30-year old, from St James Parade, was told he will serve half his sentence in prison, followed by the same period on licence when he is released from custody for an offence branded as "very serious" by Judge Patricia Smyth.

Belfast Crown Court heard that since last June, two people who were present during the incident have since died. The court was also told that despite 17 attempts made by police, the injured party refused to co-operate with the investigation.

A Crown prosecutor said: "He made it clear to police ... that he wanted to move on with his life and put this behind him."

The stabbing took place in west Belfast at around 1am on June 1 last year. The incident started at the garage when the injured man was asked, but refused, to hand over a cigarette. As the men then walked from the garage and onto the Andersonstown Road, Bradley produced a large knife which he then used to slash the injured party.

Following his arrest, Bradley gave a 'no comment' interview - but has since admitted causing the injured party grievous bodily harm, and possessing a knife on the Andersonstown Road. The court heard the weapon was recovered from the roof of a building during a subsequent police search.

Bradley - who appeared before the court with 137 previous convictions - carried out last June's stabbing whilst under a suspended sentence.

Defence barrister Barry Gibson spoke of his client's long-standing issues with drink and drugs and the death of his mother.

Jailing Bradley, Judge Smyth said that while she accepted the incident occurred at a time when he was mourning the loss of his mother and living a "chaotic lifestyle," he did have a "significant and substantial" criminal record which included offences for violence.

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