Man on five attempted murder charges refused bail in Strabane

A member of the Travelling community facing five counts of attempted murder has had a bail application refused.

46-year-old Michael Paul McDonagh of Mitford Walk, Crawley in Sussex appeared  by video link at Strabane Magistrate's Court today.

He faces five counts of attempted murder arising out of a multiple stabbing in Strabane on St Patrick's Day. The defendant was arrested in a London pub by the Metropolitan Police earlier this month.

It is alleged that McDonagh was the ringleader of a gang that attacked several people outside Joe's Bar in Strabane on March 17. Five men were stabbed in the incident, one of them requiring 200 stitches and 65 staples for his injuries.

In court today, PSNI Constable Oonagh McKenna said that bail was strenuously opposed in the case.

Constable McKenna outlined how the defendant's DNA had been found on the jeans of one of the injured men and how he had been picked out of an identity parade.

McDonagh was described as "a ghost with no traceability" by the officer, who explained how PSNI investigations had taken them as far afield as France.

Constable McKenna said that McDonagh had managed to travel to France even though there was no record of him leaving the UK or even holding a passport.

She also said it was the PSNI's belief that McDonagh was the senior figure in the St Patrick's Day bloodbath.

Defence Solicitor Oliver Roche put it to the Police Constable that his client had only been positively identified by one of the five injured parties and that the only evidence connecting McDonagh to the brawl was DNA.

The solicitor also pointed out that other suspects wanted in connection with the stabbings had agreed to speak to the police.

Refusing bail, District Judge Mr Liam McNally said the difficulty in tracking the defendant in the months after the attacks gave grave cause for concern.

The judge also said that a number of threatening phone calls made to one of the injured men gave rise to concerns that witnesses could be interfered with.

Mr McNally said there was a strong case to answer and remanded McDonagh into custody until January 19.