world : Man jailed for 13 years over Belfast stabbings

world : Man jailed for 13 years over Belfast stabbings
world : Man jailed for 13 years over Belfast stabbings

Wednesday 12 June 2024 10:50 PM

Nafeza 2 world - A man who stabbed two people in Belfast city centre has been sentenced to 13-and-a-half years.

One victim was stabbed 15 times after being attacked outside the Pug Ugly's pub on Bedford Street.

The second victim was stabbed once in the chest as he stood outside a fast food outlet on Amelia Street.

Derek Paul McOwen, 29, whose address was given as HMP Maghaberry, carried out both attacks in the early hours of 2 July 2022.

During the first incident, a couple were standing outside the Pug Ugly's pub when McOwen made a comment to a woman while walking past.

She shouted at him and he stopped and smirked at them.

The man then walked after McOwen with the intention of telling him the comment was inappropriate and that he should apologise and, McOwen then turned and stabbed him several times.

An eye witness to the attack, which was captured on CCTV, described seeing McOwen slashing and swiping at the other man and saying to him "what are you going to do about it" before walking off.

A few minutes later, McOwen attacked another man standing outside a take-away on Amelia Street.

The court heard, McOwen deliberately bumped into the other man then offered him "fair digs".

Despite moving away from McOwen, the man was then stabbed once in the chest with a knife which the defendant produced from the waistband of his tracksuit bottoms.

A second man standing outside the fast food outlet tried to intervene by swinging a rucksack at McOwen, but he fell to the ground and sustained a fractured ankle.

As this man was lying on the ground, McOwen stood over him and said "you're lucky I didn't stab you too" before leaving.

The court heard that the man stabbed outside the pub was in shock and was not aware how badly he had been injured.

A passing police car was flagged down and he was rushed to hospital in an ambulance where he was treated for 15 stab wounds.

Meanwhile, the second stabbing victim was helped by members of the public until medics arrived and he was treated for chest wound.

After his arrest, McOwen gave a "no comment" response to police during an interview.

He later pleaded guilty to two counts of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and to a charge of possessing a bladed article in a public place.

Citing McOwen's criminal record as "extensive", the judge spoke about previous offences for violent attacks were items such as snooker balls, scissors and ashtrays were used as weapons

Also noted was McOwen's use of alcohol and drugs including heroin as well as his behaviour whilst in custody such as assaulting a prison officer and refusing to undergo drug testing.

Defence submissions made on behalf of McOwen highlighted instability in his life which stemmed from the deaths of two relatives.

Also detailed was his poor mental health and paranoia - with McOwen telling a Probation Officer that he carried a knife for protection and that on the night in question he heard voices in his head telling him people were going to attack him.

The judge said accepted that he had "significant mental health concerns".

However he added that he had "not taken up numerous opportunities to have help and when given treatment, he is largely non-compliant."

Citing several aggravating factors such as the use of a weapon to carry out two separate attacks, both of which were in a public place, the judge said he had "no hesitation" in agreeing with Probation's assessment that McOwen "poses a significant risk of harm to the public."

As he sentenced McOwen to 10.5 years at Belfast Crown Court, the judge said the 29-year-old - who has 85 previous convictions - has been deemed as a dangerous offender by the Probation Service.

Due to this assessment, the judge imposed an additional extended period of three years on licence which will be served when McOwen is released from jail.

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