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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 January 2006, 15:51 GMT
Man jailed over bonfire stabbing
A father of two who stabbed a teenager three times at an 11th night bonfire has been jailed for four years.

Barry Simpson, 34, from Highpark Drive, Belfast, stabbed the 19-year-old at a bonfire in the Springmartin area in the early hours of 12 July last year.

Simpson was told but for "prompt and effective medical treatment" on the man he could have faced a murder charge.

He was accused of attempted murder, but this was dropped when he admitted wounding with intent to commit GBH.

Bonfires are lit in loyalist areas of Northern Ireland on 11 July before the main celebrations of 12 July to commemorate the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

The injured man had to have emergency surgery for injuries to his liver and spleen.

At Belfast Crown Court, Mr Justice Weir said no coherent reason may ever be discovered for the unprovoked attack.

He said it appeared that a drunken Simpson was involved in an earlier fight and may have gone home and armed himself with a folding knife, later used in the attack.

The judge said while there were no mitigating factors whatever surrounding the attack itself, the accused had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and had shown genuine regret for what he had done.

However, he added that while Simpson had no record for violence, it did surprise and concern him, that he should carry out "such an unprovoked act of madness".

The judge said alcohol had played a major part and warned Simpson that unless he stopped drinking in the future, "your life will be ruined".

Simpson agreed to serve a year's probation to help tackle his drinking.


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