A man suffered serious burns to his genitals after being sprayed with a makeshift flame-thrower in what a court heard described as a “prank”.
Two Ballymena men appeared at the local Magistrates Court on charges relating to the incident, which has left the victim hospitalised for at least a month.
Alan David McCroary (25), of Clonavon Road, and William Mark Redmond (26), of Crebilly Road, are accused of unlawfully and maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm on the man on December 30.
They are further charged, on the same date, with possessing an offensive weapon, namely an aerosol and lighter which was used as a flame thrower, with intent to commit an indictable offence.
A PSNI detective constable told the court that the victim had been at a party at a neighbour’s house where he had been drinking heavily with the two defendants.
The court heard that around midnight, the victim was sitting on the sofa between the two defendants when they began slapping him on the face.
They then began punching him until be became unconscious, after which they stripped the man and ordered a woman who was also in the house to go to the bathroom and get an aerosol.
Redmond lit a lighter and used the aerosol to turn it into a flame thrower and directed the flame towards the man’s genitals and buttocks.
They also told the woman to record the incident on her mobile phone and police are now in possession of this evidence, the officer said.
The injured man lay unconscious the rest of the night and woke the next morning “in excruciating pain” and was assisted to his own flat where an ambulance was called.
The police officer said the man had suffered nine per cent burns, adding that his genitals had been “fused to his thigh” and he will remain in the burns unit of the Royal Victoria Hospital for a month, where he will undergo skin grafts and operations.
“This was a vicious and brutal attack on a defenceless male.
“They (the defendants) said it was a prank that went wrong. We believe it was a deliberate act on an unconscious and defenceless man,” the police officer added.
Solicitor Emma McCann, replying to District Judge Desmond Perry’s assertion that it was “an appalling case”, said: “Nobody recognises that more readily than the two defendants.
“They would say this was a prank that went wrong. None of it casts these gentlemen in a good light
“They spoke to the (injured) gentleman the next morning - these men are all friends.”
Applying for bail, Ms McCann said: “These men have made admissions to this incident and there would be nothing to be gained by them in attempting to contact the witness or the injured party.
“It was quite obviously an incident which got entirely out of hand and alcohol was at its core,” she added.
The judge released the defendants on their own bail of £500, with a similar surety, McCroary to reside at an address in Belfast and Redmond to reside at an address deemed suitable by police, but not within 10 miles of Ballymena.
They have to report daily to police; are electronically tagged; and subject to a curfew from 8pm until 8am. They are also banned from taking alcohol or drugs.
Their cases were adjourned until this Thursday’s sitting of Ballymena Magistrates Court.