Grievous bodily harm charges are dropped

Judge's court wig and hammer or gavel
Judge's court wig and hammer or gavel

Charges have been withdrawn against a Coleraine man who had been accused of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm to his uncle Colin Doherty and possession of a hammer as an offensive weapon on the same date Mr Doherty was found dead.

Matthew Andrew Stirling (25), of Tullyarton Road, had first appeared at Coleraine Magistrate’s Court last December.

Colin Doherty (56) was found dead in the Silverthorn Avenue area of the Harpur’s Hill estate in Coleraine on December 13 last year.

On December 14, police said the death was no longer being treated as suspicious, following a post-mortem.

On December 15, a court heard Stirling, a nephew of the deceased, faced a charge that on December 13 he unlawfully and maliciously attempted to cause grievous bodily harm, with intent, to Mr Doherty.

He faced a second charge of being in possession of an offensive weapon, namely a hammer, with intent to commit grievous bodily harm.

At the December hearing, a defence lawyer asked a police officer: “Am I correct in thinking that the three small marks on the left hand side of Mr Doherty’s head did not contribute to his death?”

It was agreed by the police officer that “chronic alcoholism” was the conclusive cause of death.

That court heard that during interview Stirling strongly denied being in Mr Doherty’s house on the day in question; said he never struck him; never saw him and that Mr Doherty “was family”.

A defence lawyer said in December he had been instructed not to apply for bail until after the deceased’s funeral due to a “certain amount of tension” in the area and the witnesses and family of the accused lived in close proximity.

The accused was remanded in custody and eventually given bail to an address outside Coleraine and his case mentioned every month at court since December.

The accused was not present at Coleraine Magistrates Court on Monday where District Judge Liam McNally told his solicitor Ciaran Shiels both charges had been withdrawn by prosecutors.