Acid attack accused refused holiday permission

PSNI officers in uniform
One of those accused of the attack has been refused permission to leave Northern Ireland [BBC]

A 41-year-old man charged in connection with an acid attack in east Belfast last year has been refused permission to leave Northern Ireland for a family holiday.

The victim was attacked as part of a suspected dispute among members of the Polish community, a court heard on Tuesday.

Pawel Lesniewski, of the Beersbridge Road, is charged with causing grievous bodily harm with intent and criminal damage to the victim's car.

He denies any involvement in the attack and has been on bail since September.

'Crew from Dublin'

A detective expressed concerns that he might flee if allowed to go abroad.

The victim, who is in his 20s, is believed to have been permanently scarred in the attack on 5 August.

Corrosive liquid was thrown over him after five men got out of a car and chased him towards a house at Sunwich Street.

Police are still attempting to locate the other four men allegedly involved.

Prosecutors previously claimed the victim was followed as he drove an Audi A6 to a property in the area.

When he stopped the car, a group of men got out of another vehicle, with one of them throwing acid at him.

He suffered burns to his face, neck and torso which required skin graft surgery.

One of the windows in his car was also smashed with a metal bar during the incident.

The attackers left the scene threatening to come back with “a crew from Dublin”, it was claimed.

Bail conditions

Mr Lesniewski is not suspected of throwing the acid but was charged as part of an alleged joint enterprise..

Defence solicitor Brendan Blaney told the court his client only went out to get food and might have been asleep in the back of the car.

At Belfast Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, police opposed his application to vary the terms of his release for a holiday in August due to concerns he might flee.

Disputing claims that Mr Lesniewski could try to abscond, Mr Blaney argued he had voluntarily handed himself in to police.

“He has community ties in Belfast, having lived and worked here for the last nine years,” the lawyer added.

Referring to the attack, a detective said: “A motive has yet to be established... but it’s within the Polish community.

“Five males got out of a car before the injured party was assaulted. Acid was thrown over him twice.”

Refusing the application, District Judge Austin Kennedy said: “I’m going to err on the side of caution because the others allegedly involved in this have not been arrested by police.”