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Keady man fights for life as assault accused remanded in custody

34-year-old Apostol Apostolov
Apostol Apostolov

A Bulgarian man was remanded into custody today (Saturday) accused of inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent.

While 34-year-old Apostol Apostolov is currently charged with inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent, a detective told the court the victim’s family were “sent for” during the night so “there’s obviously potential that the injured party could pass on”.

Appearing at Lisburn Magistrates’ Court by videolink from police custody and speaking through an interpreter, Apostolov confirmed that he understood the three charges against him.

In addition to a charge of GBH with intent father-of-three Apostolov, whose address was given as c/o Patterson Rocks solicitors in Newry, is also accused of dangerous driving and failing to stop for police after he fled the scene of the assault.

Giving evidence during a contested bail application, Det. Const. Duffin outlined how the 61-year-old victim had been assaulted outside a shop on Victoria Street in Keady just after 11am on Friday morning.

According to witnesses at the scene, there had been a verbal altercation between the men and after Apostolov was struck by the alleged victim, he went to his car but returned a few moments later and punched the complainant.

“Witnesses have said in a statement that he fell back like a plank with his arms by his side which suggests that the injured party was unconscious,” said the officer adding that while he was lying prone on the ground, Apostolov is alleged to have “leaned over him and punched him again”.

According to the police case the complainant “fell straight back, possibly resulting in a head injury” and the court heard an ambulance crew “rendezvoused with the air ambulance” and the victim was flown to RVH where he remains in a “critical but stable condition.”

DC Duffin revealed however that during the night, the stricken man’s family were “sent for”.

Turning back to the investigation, the court heard how witnesses at the scene were able to record the registration number of a Ford Galaxy which Apostolov was driving and having spotted it on the Newry Road in Camlough, they had to give chase after it failed to stop.

Eventually though, pursuing officers managed to get ahead of it and stop the people carrier which collided with their car.

Arrested and interviewed, Apostolov conceded there had been a verbal argument and he had been assaulted but when it came to questions about his actions, “he claimed to have no memory of it.”

“Our primary objection to bail is the obvious risk of flight,” said the detective, adding that while Apostolov has been here for several years, works here and has children in local schools, “given the nature of this and the severity of the offence and obviously…the potential outcome is very much uncertain,” the length of possible prison sentence cooks be an incentive for him to flee.

Highlighting that his home is “a matter of minutes from the border,” DC Duffin argued that if Apostolov was to cross it “he may as well be back in Bulgaria.”

He revealed there were also fears for the safety of Apostolov himself as “the injured party would be well known in the area and police fear there could be some sort of retaliation.”

Defence solicitor John Rocks said Apostolov accepts there had been a verbal argument with the victim where the defendant himself had been grabbed and “punched to the back of the head” so he lashed out in a “swinging movement” but that he “entirely disputes” punching him while he was on the ground.

Having lived and worked in NI since 2016, Apostolov “has strong ties to the community and has embedded himself here” argued Mr Rocks, adding that as “the main breadwinner” in his family, bail refusal would have a detrimental effect on his wife and three kids.

District Judge Amanda Brady said however given his reaction at the scene was to flee and that there also “seems to be some substance” to police concerns about reprisals, she was refusing bail.

Remanding Apostolov into custody, she adjourned the case to May 10.

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