02 May 2006

Video link row over bouncer who 'fears for his life'


02/05/2006 - 14:34:51

A nightclub doorman stabbed in a frenzied attack fears he will be killed if he returns to the North to testify against a Belfast loyalist accused of trying to murder him, a court heard today.

Crown lawyers urged a judge to let Trevor Gowdy give his evidence through a live television link from an undisclosed location in England.

But legal representatives for Mark Haddock (aged 37), the man charged with the ferocious assault, resisted the application at Belfast Crown Court.

They claimed it was an unprecedented move as the victim has already given partial evdence.

Warning that they may ask for the trial to be halted if the prosecution’s move was successful, the defence insisted that the post traumatic stress disorder suffered by Mr Gowdy since the attack was so severe that his evidence would have little worthwhile quality.

Mr Gowdy was found unconscious in the Monkstown Estate, Newtownabbey, in December 2002.

The victim, from Ballyclare, Co Antrim, had been repeatedly stabbed and struck with a hatchet and baton.

Police found him lying on the ground. His car had been set on fire.

Haddock, of Mount Vernon Park, north Belfast, has been charged with arson, assault and unlawful imprisonment as well as the attempted murder.

In court today Charles Adair QC, prosecuting, revealed details from a psychiatric report into the condition of Mr Gowdy, who is now living in England under a witness protection scheme.

Reading from the medical assessment prepared by a Dr Turner, Mr Adair said: “I think he fears if he returns to Northern Ireland he will be murdered.

“If he has to return to Northern Ireland to give evidence in this case my opinion is he will experience intense fear and distress.”

The trial judge, Mr Justice Weatherup, retired to consider his ruling on the application.

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