Teenager given seven-year sentence for Ballyduff stabbing

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A 19-year-old who stabbed a man outside the shops at Ballyduff with a broken beer bottle was handed a seven-year sentence on Thursday.

Jailing Thomas Burke for the November 2017 attack, Judge RoseAnne McCormick QC told him “you could have taken a young man’s life in what was an appalling drink and drug-fuelled incident”.

Burke, whose address was given as Abbeyville Avenue in Port Talbot, Wales, admitted wounding the other man with intent, and possessing an offensive weapon. He will spend half his sentence in prison, followed by the same period on licence when he is released.

Belfast Crown Court heard the incident between Burke and the injured party - who were both 18 at the time - occurred following both verbal exchanges and messages on Facebook.

The injured man sustained a total of 14 lacerations across his torso, arms and face which has resulted in extensive scarring. Noting the multiple injuries sustained, and the lasting impact this will have on the now 19-year old, Judge McCormick said: “It is a tragedy that this young man is going to bear the marks of these 14 lacerations, just because one human being used a bottle on another human being to inflict these injuries.”

Prior to sentencing, Belfast Crown Court heard the violent incident occurred at the shops on the estate on the night of the 4/5 November, 2017.

Burke was with friends in Ballyduff while the injured party had been drinking with friends in Glengormley. A girl at the party in Ballyduff called the injured party on her phone, and at some point Burke took the girl’s phone and spoke to the injured party.

Witnesses attending the party at Ballyduff said Burke was “slabbering” down the phone, was aggressive and angry. Other revellers heard Burke say “I’m going to stab him” before leaving the party with his brother, and a beer bottle in his hand.

Moments later, Burke and the injured man - who had drunk 15 bottles of beer - encountered each other at the shop front, and while both men gave differing accounts of what occurred next, a couple who live in the area heard a commission at 2am.

The male resident went outside and saw “two boys fighting”. He described this as “more wrestling than fighting”, and the violence came to an end when a friend of the injured party noticed blood spreading on his top.

Police and an ambulance were called, and the injured man was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital where multiple slash wounds were treated with stitches and staples. Burke was taken to Antrim Area Hospital where he was treated for a laceration to the webbing of his right hand.

Prosecutor Rosemary Walsh described the incident as a short but “frenzied attack.”

Defence barrister Luke Curran said his client has “absolutely no previous convictions”. Citing what occurred as “an entirely isolated incident”, Mr Curran said that “matters spiralled out of control” between the two parties. Burke’s barrister also spoke of the genuine remorse displayed.