Case against wedding reception knife accused put back

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A man alleged to have donned a balaclava and turned up at a Loughgiel wedding reception with a knife has had his preliminary enquiry - the legal step to send the case to the Crown Court - put back.

John Patrick Anderson (21), of Scally Park, Loughgiel, is charged with attempted grievous bodily harm with intent and possession of an offensive weapon, a knife, with intent to commit an indictable offence at the Millennium Centre in July last year.

He has been on remand, in custody, and appeared at Coleraine Magistrates Court on Monday January 9 via video link.

A prosecutor said the preliminary enquiry was due to have been held on January 23 but due to a “backlog” in the Public Prosecution Service office that has now been put back until February 6.

In December, the same court was told a wedding guest thought she was “going to die” after a balaclava-clad knifeman confronted her before she was dramatically rescued by her dad.

The accused, Anderson, alleged he had only gone to the Millennium Centre to “disable the sound system because of the racket” from the wedding party.

During a failed bail application in December, a police officer said in the early hours of Saturday July 16 this year family members associated with the wedding party were still in the community facility when a woman went outside and was approached by a “scruffy looking” balaclava-wearing man carrying a large kitchen knife.

When she asked him what he was doing, Anderson allegedly put the knife within five inches of her throat and the woman, a mental health worker, tried to talk to him and asked him what he wanted.

The police officer said the woman put her hands up and tried to back away from Anderson until she was pushed up against a wall and “she thought she was going to die”.

The officer said at that stage the woman’s father came out and broke a table over the defendant’s back and the balaclava was then pulled off.

The PSNI officer said Anderson identified himself and said he had “mental health issues”.

Defence solicitor Ciaran Shiels told the December court Anderson had been at home and was “unable to sleep because of the racket coming from the Millennium Centre”.

Added the lawyer: “He went up to disable the sound system and it was not his intention to hurt anyone”.

District Judge Liam McNally refused the bail application last month.