A man accused of setting fire to another man’s house after meting out a savage beating has been described in court as a “monster”, as he was remanded in custody on Saturday.
Lisburn Magistrates’ Court heard that the alleged victim told police Brian McCourt “turned into a monster” and that as he held him down on the kitchen floor pummelling his head with punches, he “knew if he didn’t get away McCourt would kill him”.
McCourt (44), from Oak Lodge in Banbridge, appeared in court by videolink from police custody where he was charged with arson with intent to endanger life, inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent and causing criminal damage to a car wing mirror, all alleged to have been committed on 5 November this year.
Giving evidence to the court, a Detective Constable said he believed he could connect McCourt to the charges and that police were objecting to bail due to concerns he would commit further offences or interfere with the investigation.
He told the court that the NIFRS called the police around 11pm that night to report they were at the scene of a house fire and the occupier had been assaulted.
When police arrived at the scene, the complainant told officers he had been “drinking all day” with McCourt when he “became aggressive”, throwing a bottle of Buckfast against the wall before allegedly attacking the man.
The pair ended up in front of the washing machine in the kitchen where, according to the complainant, McCourt held him down “by the shoulders” and repeatedly punched him about the head.
The DC said the man had given a statement describing how “McCourt turned into a monster, his eyes looked evil and he seemed to be a different person…his eyes were focused and calm while punching me”.
“The injured party said he saw a flash in his eyes and he realised that if he didn’t get away that McCourt would kill him,” said the officer, adding that the man managed to roll out from under McCourt and flee the house.
When he went back, he found his kitchen and living room filled with black smoke and the court heard the seat of the fire was a pile of dry clothes which were in front of the washing machine.
The alleged victim was taken to hospital where he was an inpatient for two days, receiving treatment for a laceration which needed six stitches, fractures to his jaw, an eye socket and a cheek bone and doctors suspect that he may have a broken nose as well.
Meanwhile, McCourt was arrested outside his ex-girlfriend’s house but the court heard that due to other matters, he could not be interviewed about the GBH and arson until Friday evening.
During questioning McCourt denied assaulting the complainant and denied setting the fire, claiming that he was aware the male was under threat from other people.
Defence counsel Justin Byrne argued “there’s no direct evidence linking him to the fire” and submitted that McCourt could be freed with conditions to address police concerns.
District Judge Rosie Watters disagreed, however, and remanding McCourt into custody to 10 December, said she was “really concerned about the commission of further offences”.