Northern Ireland news

Man stabbed multiple times on busy street attended pre-arranged fight, court told

Agricultural worker Roben Johnston faces charges of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and possessing two knives in connection with the incident on October 30

A MAN stabbed multiple times on a busy street is believed to have attended a pre-arranged fight, the High Court has heard.

Prosecutors said he suffered four wounds in the back and a punctured lung after violence flared in Newtownards, Co Down.

Agricultural worker Roben Johnston faces charges of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and possessing two knives in connection with the incident on October 30.

The 22-year-old, of High Street in Comber, was refused bail.

Judge Sir Richard McLaughlin said: "Armed combat on the streets is something the courts have to do everything in their power to prevent."

The alleged victim was taken to hospital following the encounter at Mill Street in the town.

He claimed that he went there to meet Johnston due to comments made about members of his family.

According to his account, the defendant stabbed him after he got the better of a third man at the scene.

Crown lawyer Natasha Fitzsimons said armed response police officers located Johnston in nearby flats, bleeding from a hand wound he said had been sustained trying to disarm a would-be attacker.

A blood-stained Stanley-type knife was found in a high-visibility jacket.

Johnston told police the injured party had been angry with him for refusing to buy drugs.

He claimed the other man produced a blade first, the court heard, and that he acted in self-defence.

Opposing bail, Ms Fitzsimons argued: "This would appear to be a prearranged and premeditated attack which occurred on a busy public street in Newtownards town centre."

Defence counsel Stuart Magee acknowledged the two men agreed to the meeting "to resolve their differences".

Mr Magee added: "He (Johnston) makes a self-defence case. A fight broke out... and he sustained a serious cut to his hand, receiving 11 stitches."

But Sir Richard ruled that the accused must remain in custody.

He said: "It's clear that there was an arranged fight, it went extremely violent very quickly and weapons were in play."

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