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Armagh man who slashed alleged rapist in face in ‘reprisal attack’ jailed

An Armagh man who repeatedly slashed an alleged rapist’s face and neck with a Stanley knife in a “reprisal attack” in the city centre on New Year’s Eve has been jailed.

Oisin Smith wiped away tears as he was handed a four-year sentence at Newry Crown Court earlier this week.

The 21-year-old will spend half of the term in prison and the remainder under supervised licence conditions.

Judge Paul Ramsey KC accepted the case was unusual but told the court a custodial sentence was inevitable.

Given the defendant’s plea, previously clear record and diagnosed mental health issues, the judge reduced the sentence from six to four years.

The defendant, from Legar Hill Park in Armagh, admitted wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm on December 31, 2022.

Previous courts were told he and his victim had been friends but that their relationship had broken down over claims the teenager had raped someone.

Prosecuting counsel Fiona O’Kane said the duo exchanged messages in which Smith said he wanted “a dig and that will be us”.

When they met, however, he attacked his victim with a Stanley knife, leaving him with three gaping wounds on his cheek and neck.

Mrs O’Kane said when the police arrived at the scene of the attack on Lower English Street in Armagh, “there was a large amount of blood” in the area and over the clothing of the victim, who was initially given first aid for his injuries.

After the police arrived at the home of a clearly drunken Smith, he confessed his guilt immediately, saying: “I did cut him. He raped that girl. That’s why I did it.”

After officers found a knife during a search, he said he had it “in case he came back”.

The victim was taken to hospital for further treatment to his injuries.

Doctors removed a shard of metal from one of the wounds, each of which was between four and 10 centimetres long, before stitching his face back together.

Mrs O’Kane said that since the attack, the victim had been charged with rape and sexual assault against two women and was awaiting trial.

While Smith initially admitted attacking his former friend, he gave no-comment interviews to the police, before formally owning up.

Mrs O’Kane accepted he was due the maximum credit for entering a guilty plea to wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm at the earliest opportunity.

Lodging a plea in mitigation, defence KC Kevin Magill told the court his client had entered into therapy after the offence.

He added his mental health problems had been exacerbated by the fact he knew he was going to prison.

Mr Magill also said delays in the case that were “not the fault of the defendant nor the Public Prosecution Service” had made things worse.

He told the court that with his client having turned 21 last Friday, the case coming to a conclusion “will be the best 21st birthday present he could have asked for”.

Mr Magill continued: “It is with a sense of relief that the court sentences today.”

Jailing Smith, Judge Paul Ramsey said while he had admitted his guilt and had a previously clear record, the fact that the attack was premeditated and had been carried out while he was under the influence of alcohol were significant aggravating features

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