FOUR men from North Antrim accused of an alleged 'vicious attack' where a man was assaulted, had his nose bitten and was hit by a car while he lay on the pavement outside a bar in Armoy, have been refused bail.
Jarlath Jones (23), Jake McClafferty (24), Tyrone McCormick (22) and Sean Healy (32) are jointly accused on a number of charges including attempting to cause grievous bodily harm to a 48-year-old man, driving a Mazda car while unfit, failing to report, remain and stop after a road traffic collision.
Antrim Magistrates Court heard that despite being beaten unconscious and struck by the car, suffering numerous cuts, bruises and swelling, the injured man has since been discharged from hospital.
McCormick, from Glenville Crescent in Cushendall and Jones, from Beachlands in Carnlough, both face four counts of common assault and two of causing actual bodily harm while McClafferty, from Rockfield Row, Cargan, faces five assault and one ABH and Healy, from Kilnadore Crescent, also in Cushendall, faces six counts of common assault.
McClafferty and McCormick were further charged with obstructing police and the theft of an envelope and handbag from a car parked in Magherahoney, close to where the four were later apprehended.
All the charges relate to an incident which allegedly took place during the early hours of August 18.
In the witness box, a Detective Constable said he believed he could connect all four to each of the charges.
He said that police objected to the defendants being freed on bail amid concerns that they would interfere with witnesses or with the ongoing police investigation.
The officer outlined how the victim was attacked outside a bar on Main Street in Armoy at around 1.10am when he was 'repeatedly kicked about the head and body until he was unconscious'.
He said that as the victim lay face down on the footpath, one of the defendants, who he believed to be Mr Healy, approached the alleged victim, raised his head off the ground and 'bit his nose'.
CCTV footage of the incident showed that staff and customers came out from the bar to assist the victim and then showed a car on the footpath colliding with the man on the ground, 'shunting him up the footpath'.
He said that witnesses allege that the four males then exited the car and assaulted other people, before the vehicle left the scene and was located around three miles away at Magherahoney at around 3am.
The DC said that McCormick was found hiding behind a bin, McClafferty below a car and Jones and Healey were found together in a field.
Police believe that the four had swapped clothing, with the officer adding that one defendant had only one shoe and Jones was wearing two right shoes, with three other shoes still outstanding and being sought.
The police witness said McClafferty had provided two written statements where he accepted involvement in an altercation and that he had been in the car, but claimed he was acting in self defence, did not say who was driving and refused to identify himself in the CCTV footage.
Jones 'exercised his right to silence' and did not speak at all, while McCormick initially refused to answer questions, before providing a written statement in his final interview, in which accepted he was in the car but denied driving it.
Healy, the court heard, claimed he had been a back seat passenger and accepted he was involved in the assault, apologising for his actions.
The court heard that police suspect that Jones had been driving the car when it struck the man on the ground, because Healy claimed McCormick and McClafferty were also in passenger seats, the car was registered to his mother and he was a named driver on the insurance policy.
Forensic tests are also being carried out.
The Detective Constable said that police were objecting to the defendants being freed on bail, amid fears they would interfere with witnesses or with the ongoing police investigation.
Defence solicitors for the men said that they could be freed on bail under strict conditions. It was also alleged that there was a 'self defence' element to the incident, with one lawyer suggesting that the car had been surrounded by a crowd and the men had been in fear.
Answering questions from the defence, the police officer said that CCTV showed that the four men had attempted to gain access to an off-licence, disappeared from view, and that the alleged injured party was then seen exiting the building and coming out for a smoke in an alleyway, out of sight of the camera, before the assault commenced.
Asked if he was aware that Jones had himself sustained an injury, the DC replied that the sling that Jones was wearing a sling in the dock and which was shown to the court, had not been present when the defendant was being interviewed at 4pm the previous day.
Healy's solicitor said that he would be 'appalled' if his children ever viewed the footage of the incident and apologised on his client's behalf to the victim for the injuries that he had sustained.
District Judge Nigel Broderick warned the court that the hearing was 'not a trial' and that everyone was entitled to a presumption of innocence.
However he described the incident as a 'vicious attack' and refused bail on the grounds of a risk that the four men would interfere with the investigation.
All four will appear at Coleraine Magistrates Court via videolink on 16 September.