Manhunt over as on-the-run suspect in 'frenzied' stab attack caught in East Belfast

NewsBy Jamie McDowell
Stephen McFarlane
Stephen McFarlane

The police have said they have caught the suspect of a frenzied stab attack on a young woman in Belfast.

The 33-year-old bodybuilder, who works as a mechanic in Mallusk, near Glengormley, was believed to have been on the run driving a white Audi.

In a statement, the PSNI said:"Police have detained 33 year old Stephen McFarlane in the area of the Newtownards Road in Belfast. He was located just before 2pm today. 

 "Detective Inspector Chris Millar said: 'I would like to thank the public and the media for their assistance in this matter. We received a number of calls from members of the public throughout our search and we are grateful for that co-operation. Our investigation into this serious assault will now continue'."

The woman was stabbed up to 27 times at her Ashgrove home.

Neighbours reportedly heard the woman's screams for help after she was attacked.

There are reports that the victim was able to phone the emergency services herself, and that her attacker snatched her phone from her before fleeing the scene.

A friend of the victim said: "She was in a very bad state when she was brought into hospital and we feared she wouldn't make it.

"The medical staff fought a tremendous battle to save her life. It was touch-and-go for a long time.

"Her father was desperately concerned about her. Her condition improved as the day went on. She started breathing on her own and they were able to take her off life support.

"When she woke up at first she didn't talk, she just cried, but then she gathered herself together and found the strength to speak to detectives and tell them what happened."

Before McFarlane was caught, he allegedly made contact with one of his relatives by telephone. 

The victim of the attack was in a critical condition in hospital on Wednesday night but her condition has got better and she has been talking to police. 

DUP MLA for the area, Paula Bradley, said: "This is a very quiet residential area and local residents in Ashgrove are shocked and horrified by what happened.

"My thoughts and prayers are with this young woman and I hope that she will make a full recovery."

Mr McFarlane is known as a fitness fanatic who worked as a doorman for a period of time.