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Prisoner On Weekend Release With Hatchet Was Like ‘Man Possessed’ And Police Armed Response Unit Was Called

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Coleraine Courthouse

A prisoner on weekend leave accused of grabbing a hatchet after allegedly punching a man and woman at a “family get-together” in County Antrim was “a man possessed” requiring a police armed response unit to be tasked, a court heard on Monday.

Christopher Aitcheson (35), of Killagan Road near Cloughmills, appeared at Coleraine Magistrates Court via video link from Magilligan Prison. He is charged with assaulting a man occasioning him actual bodily harm and assaulting the man’s wife on April 15 this year.

The court heard the defendant is due to be released from prison on June 27 for a previous offence.

In 2017 Aitcheson was given a three year sentence – half of which had to be served and the other half on licence for a one punch attack in which he blinded his partner’s ex-husband in one eye. Opposing bail in relation to the charges relating to April this year, a police officer said that around 1.30am on the date in question police received a 999 call saying a man and his wife had been assaulted by Aitcheson.

The court heard the couple had been invited to a “family get-together” in the Cloughmills area. The defendant was on weekend leave from prison.

The court heard that when the couple and their children arrived at the house the defendant had already been drinking and that during the evening the defendant and the man had gone to Patton’s Pub in Cloughmills. The police officer said that later back at the house Aitcheson began punching the man and also punched the man’s wife.

The officer said the man said he could not understand why Aitcheson was behaving in such a way. The court heard the defendant then picked up a small hatchet and followed the couple to the door.

The police officer said the injured parties had described Aitcheson as “a man possessed and dangerous” and an armed response unit was contacted.

The officer objected to bail saying there was a risk of further offending and part of Aitcheson’s early release conditions involved not drinking alcohol but he was drinking on the date in question. The officer said both victims were “very afraid” of Aitcheson.

District Judge Nigel Broderick said Aitcheson could be released on bail subject to a suitable address being agreed but the defendant was banned from having any contact with the injured parties. He is not to enter the town where they live and he is not to consume alcohol or be on licensed premises.

Aitcheson also has an 11pm-7am curfew.

The case was adjourned to June 25.

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