GARDAI in Newcastle West are following a “definite line of enquiry” into an alleged “hatchet attack” on a man outside the town’s courthouse this week.
There were dramatic scenes on Bishop Street this Tuesday when a 23-year-old man was struck on the back of the head with a weapon just minutes after a court sitting had broken for lunch.
Traffic came to a halt as gardai and emergency services converged on the scene at approximately 1.45pm. The victim of the attack escaped with only minor injuries, though blood was visible coming from a wound on the back of his head as he spoke to gardai on the street.
It was claimed that he had been struck by a “hatchet” as the victim and witnesses spoke to gardai, but no weapon has yet been recovered and gardai are still trying to identify what weapon was used.
The attack is understood to be linked to an ongoing feud between families in Rathkeale and Newcastle West. However the victim of the attack is not thought to be directly involved in the feud, as he is currently living in England.
As he was speaking to gardai after being attacked, the victim claimed that he had been targeted in a case of “mistaken identity”. “He doesn’t even know me”, the victim told gardai as he identified his alleged attacker by name.
A spokesperson for Newcastle West gardai said this Wednesday that no arrests had yet been made, but a “definite line of enquiry” was being followed.
The dramatic sequence of events unfolded shortly after Judge Aeneas McCarthy rose for lunch following a morning sitting of the local court. The victim had earlier been present in the court’s public gallery to support a relative who was facing charges.
A short time after the judge rose, loud shouts could be heard on the street outside the court as an argument took place between a number of individuals. The dispute then appeared to settle down, however moments later there were screams and a woman began shouting “he’s after getting hit with a hatchet”.
A member of the gardai who had been in the courthouse ran to the scene, where the victim was upright, calm and talking to a companion. Moments later a number of gardai arrived at the scene, as shoppers and people working in nearby businesses gathered on the street to witness the commotion.
The victim spoke to gardai throughout, giving his name, date of birth and other information. During his conversation with gardai, he claimed that he had been attacked in a case of “mistaken identity”.
Eye witnesses reported seeing the alleged attacker flee the scene in the direction of Gortboy in a silver car seconds after the incident took place.
An ambulance arrived within ten minutes, and the victim was treated at the scene before being taken to University Hospital Limerick for further treatment.
Seven members of the gardai were present on the scene within minutes of the incident taking place. Traffic returned to normal within thirty minutes of the attack.
Gardai have asked that anyone with information relating to the incident contact Newcastle West garda station on 069 20650.