Pair accused of slashing girl’s face denied bail

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A couple accused of slashing a woman’s face in a hate crime attack for being in a relationship with their teenage daughter must remain in custody, a High Court judge ruled today.

Refusing bail to the pair, Mr Justice Colton expressed shock at the “callousness” of a stabbing apparently fuelled by prejudice.

The victim was cut repeatedly with a knife after allegedly accepting she was to be punished at a meeting with the parents close to a police station in Lurgan.

Prosecutors said she will probably be permanently scarred from the wounds inflicted on May 29.

The husband and wife, aged 43 and 44, face charges of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and possession of an offensive weapon.

They are not being named to protect the identity of their 16-year-old daughter.

Prosecution counsel Conor Maguire said the victim claims to have known they were planning to harm her because of her relationship with their daughter.

She evaded them for three days before going to Lurgan Police Station in fear and an attempt to find a safe place, the court heard.

According to her account she was then phoned by a co-accused and told: “We are coming to get you, if we have to stay here a month we will get you.”

Mr Maguire claimed she told police she was afraid and knew she was going to be punished, but gave up and left because she just wanted it over with.

“She said these people wouldn’t relent until they had found her,” the barrister added.

The victim said she walked to a nearby car park where the waiting couple both grabbed her amid attempts to pull her into a vehicle.

At that point the man allegedly urged his wife: “Cut the face off her or I’m going to do it.”

It was claimed the female accused then produced a carpet knife and slashed the woman’s face several times.

“She said she pleaded with (the wife) not to cut her, and that she was screaming and struggling,” Mr Maguire added.

She claimed to have fled when the couple eventually let her go.

Mr Justice Colton was told the woman sustained several lacerations to her face, requiring a total of 14 stitches.

Her wounds will require further medical treatment and are likely to result in permanent scarring, according to the prosecutor.

All of those involved are said to be members of the Traveller community.

Mr Maguire also submitted: “An aggravating feature of this offence is that it’s motivated by hate as a result of the applicant’s daughter having been in a same-sex relationship with the injured party.”

Seeking bail, defence counsel Peter Coiley argued that his clients posed no further risk to the victim because they don’t know where she’s living.

He also contended that it would be foolish of them to try to find her.

But refusing the application, Mr Justice Colton held there was a risk of re-offending.

The judge said: “These are serious, shocking offences. I’m struck by the callousness of what occurred and the fact it appears to be motivated by prejudice.”

Referring to the victim, he added: “She was actually seeking sanctuary in the police station proximate to the time she as assaulted.”