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Belfast road-rage incident caught on camera linked to Traveller feud, court told

A car was allegedly attacked with hatchets and crowbars before it rammed into a van as part of a feud between two families

Alan Erwin

A car was allegedly attacked with hatchets and crowbars before it rammed into a van as part of a feud between two families in Belfast, a court has heard.

Police claimed the vehicles deliberately crashed into each other during a pursuit in the south of the city on Saturday.

The collisions, which were filmed and posted on social media, are believed to be connected to an escalating dispute among members of the Traveller community.

Details emerged as three men appeared at Belfast Magistrates’ Court over their alleged involvement.

Noel Cawley, 33, of Oaks Road in Dungannon, Co Tyrone, is charged with dangerous driving and possessing a Class C drug.

Edward Gavan, 26, from University Street, Belfast, and 28-year-old Brian Gavan, of Eia Street in the city, are both accused of criminal damage, affray, threats to kill and possessing offensive weapons in public.

They were allegedly among up to six men in a white van which pulled up while Cawley and an associate were in a Volkswagen Passat parked outside a house on Donnybrook Street.

“The males got out and started attacking the car with a bull hook, hatchets and crowbars,” a detective said.

According to witnesses, threats to kill the man with Cawley were issued before the men returned to the van and sped off, chased by those in the Passat.

The pursuit continued on to Tates Avenue, where the two vehicles collided repeatedly.

At one point the van reversed into the Passat before it was allegedly rammed on purpose by the car.

Edward Gavan faces further charges of dangerous driving and failing to stop at the scene of an accident.

During interviews he claimed that he was provoked by his vehicle being hit by a ball bearing fired from a catapult, the court heard.

Cawley told police he lost control and accidentally collided with the van due to the pressure of the situation.

However, the detective contended: “The other people may have been the instigators, but he has gone on to ram the other vehicle when given the chance, putting others at risk and heightening the situation.”

Opposing bail for the defendants, she stated: “It is believed that this the start of a feud between two families in the Travelling community.

“There are major concerns about the risk of re-offending and revenge attacks on both sides.

“This feud is escalating quickly and quite seriously.”

District Judge Mark McGarrity granted bail to all three accused on strict conditions, including a ban on contacting any witnesses.

He prohibited Cawley from entering Belfast and excluded both Gavans from the area around Donnybrook Street.

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