Man in balaclava held knife to wedding guest’s throat

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A wedding guest thought she was “going to die” after a balaclava-clad knifeman confronted her before she was dramatically rescued by her dad, it was claimed in court.

The accused, John Patrick Anderson (21), of Scally Park in Loughgiel, alleged he had only gone to the nearby Millennium Centre to “disable the sound system because of the racket” from the wedding party.

During a failed bail application by Anderson who appeared at Coleraine Magistrates Court via video link from Maghaberry prison on Monday, 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 going outside was approached by a “scruffy looking” balaclava-wearing man carrying a large kitchen knife with a five-inch blade.

When she asked him what he was doing, Anderson allegedly put the knife to 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 back of the defendant and the balaclava was then pulled off.

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

A prosecutor said the case will be going to the Crown Court where the defendant - who is charged with having a knife as an offensive weapon and attempted grievous bodily harm with intent - could face up to four years in jail if convicted.

Defence solicitor Ciaran Shiels said it was a “bizarre situation” when 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”.

The police officer objected to bail saying the victim and her family were “absolutely terrified” as they live close by and it is a small community.

The officer alleged there had been an incident two years before when Anderson stabbed his brother.

District Judge Liam McNally said he was not granting bail in the absence of a medical report on Anderson and in any event would not be releasing him to an address in the Loughgiel area,

Remanding Anderson in continuing custody until January, the judge said coming up to Christmas there would potentially be many loud parties.