When a man was found lying in his own flat covered in blood, he told the person who found him it was ‘your man upstairs’ who had assaulted him.
Mark Howie (43), of Sperrin Park in Derry, admitted inflicting grievous bodily harm on Sydney Olphert with intent on a date between March 31 and April 3, 2017.
Derry Crown Court heard that the victim had subsequently died but that this was unrelated to the assault.
A prosecution barrister said the victim lived in a flat on his own and Howie lived above him. On April 1, 2017, a friend of Olphert’s called to have a drink with him.
Howie was in the flat and they all had a few drinks then a verbal argument broke out between the victim and the defendant over a mobile phone. This subsequently quietened down and then the third party left.
The next morning the other man called to see Olphert and found him slumped on the sofa covered in blood.
The court heard that there was ‘substantial blood on the wall behind the sofa and on the ceiling.’ The man asked who was responsible and Olphert said, ‘your man upstairs’.
Olphert was conveyed to hospital and found to have fractures to his vertebrae, multiple fractures to his face, lacerations to his eye, and other injuries.
Howie was arrested and initially taken to Coleraine before being brought to Strand Road. As he was being brought to Derry, he volunteered some details to police.
The court heard he said: “Your man came at me with a walking stick. He hit me across the head and on the arm. I must have lost the head and beat the f--k out of him.“
Clothing recovered from a washing machine in Howie’s flat was found to be bloodstained and forensics matched the blood to Mr Olphert. DNA from a bloodstained walking stick was also matched with Olphert.
When Mr Olphert talked to police, he accepted he had been drinking on the night but was able to identify Howie as his attacker. When Howie was interviewed, he said he had woken up with a sore head and arm and covered in blood. He said he had been drinking with the victim and got into an argument and he claimed Mr Olphert hit him with the walking stick and after that he ‘must have blacked out.’
He said he had not gone to check on the victim as he was ‘scared of what he would find.’ Howie said he was ‘disgusted and ashamed’ about what he had done.
The court heard the crime was aggravated by the fact the victim was vulnerable, was attacked in his own home, a weapon was used and no attempt was made to offer assistance.
Defence counsel Mr Stephen Mooney said his client was aware a substantial custodial sentence was inevitable. He said it was clear there had been a ‘sustained violent assault’ but what triggered that was ‘a matter for conjecture’.
Howie was remanded in custody to be sentenced on Sept. 12.