Attempted murder accused refused bail

October 13, 2014

A 31-year old Latvian man charged with the attempted murder of a woman in Mourneview Park in Newry last week has been refused bail.

Vitalijs Sulieko, with an address in Warrenpoint, has admitted assaulting the woman, who is in her 50s, last Monday afternoon but denied attempted murder, claiming he had cut the woman’s throat by accident.

The court heard that the injured woman sustained deep throat wounds that were several centimetres wide in the horrific attack that has sent shockwaves through the local community.

A man and a woman, who is understood to be the accused’s girlfriend, were also assaulted in the incident.

A PSNI Detective told the court that Mr Sulieko had admitted during a police interview that he carried a black-handled blade for protection. The detective said the accused arrived at the house and asked his partner to leave with him, but when she refused, he punched her in the face and pulled her hair.

According to the police officer, when the victim intervened, Mr Suileko threatened to kill her.  He then began to wave the knife around and slit her throat, the court heard.

A knife was recovered by the police wedged in the fence of a nearby property.

The accused’s defence lawyer assured the court that his client lived outside Newry and would not return to Mourneview Park and pointed out that all the prosecution witnesses who were in the house had been intoxicated, adding that his client had no criminal record.

Refusing bail and remanding Mr Sulieko in custody to appear in court again next month, the judge said there was a risk of flight and re-offending as well as interfering with a witness.

A seven inch blade was used in the daytime attack which left neighbours in the area reeling and sparked calls for authorities to step in to deal with alleged ongoing anti-social behaviour at the house in which the incident took place.

The Mourneview Park property, which is run by Belfast based Housing Association, Ulidia, is understood to be rented to the female victim of the knife attack but, according to neighbours, over 20 vagrant men frequent the house on a daily basis, consuming alcohol and engaging in anti-social behaviour including physical altercations, publicly urinating and exposing themselves in front of children in the area.

The stabbing is believed to be the second such incident at the house in the last year, after a Christmas Eve attack left a man with stab wounds.

In the wake of the latest shocking incident, Ulidia Housing Association admitted it is concerned about the alleged anti-social behaviour connected to the property and pledged to continue to liaise with the local community and PSNI on the matter.

Local political representatives have called for urgent action from police, the Housing Executive and Housing Associations to ensure such anti-social behaviour is addressed.

Expressing his concern, SDLP Newry Councillor Kevin McAteer said he intended to meet with Ulidia Housing Association officials in the coming days to ensure the worries and “deep concerns” of residents “no longer fall on deaf ears.”

“I want to be clear, however, that this is an isolated incident and is totally unreflective of the character of this community and the people here,” said Councillor McAteer.

“The Mourneview Community Association has undertaken some excellent work in the area and I will continue to support that. Every area has to contend with anti-social behaviour and I will be working pro-actively with residents, local neighbourhood police officers and those involved to ensure it comes to an end.

“It is imperative that we see urgent action. We all have a role to play in making our communities better, more harmonious places to live. I will certainly be playing my part and will ensure others play theirs.”

Newry City Sinn Fein councillor Charlie Casey also said the incident did not reflect “the true nature of local residents who have become increasingly frustrated at the increasing serious assaults and alcohol and drug related anti-social behaviour taking place.”

Councillor Casey said many people in the locality and throughout Newry feel that agencies such as the Housing Executive and Housing Associations “really need to review their policies in relation to the drink and drug anti-social activities of some tenants.”

“There has to be a balance between the right of people constantly engaged in anti-social activities remaining as tenants in their homes with the impact of that individual’s behaviour on neighbours and the community.  Many perceive that the rights of neighbours and communities are undervalued and undermined,” added the Sinn Fein councillor.