Offender warned he could serve 7 years in jail for brutal attack on 88-year-old man

Laganside Courthouse in Belfast

A 20 year-old "dangerous offender" has been warned he could serve a full seven years in year for a "brutal, horrific attack" which left an 88 year-old man feeling vulnerable and unable to live alone.

Judge Geoffrey Miller QC told Tiernan Og McAteer that initially he will serve two and a half years after which it will be up to the Parole Commissioners to consider if he poses a danger to the public.

If so, he will not be released and may serve "all seven years in custody".

McAteer, whose address was given as Hydebank Young Offenders Centre, pleaded guilty to the aggravated burglary of the pensioner's home while high on a cocktail of drink and drugs, theft, possessing an offensive weapon and assault occasioning actual bodily harm, on October 21 last year.

Judge Miller who imposed an extended sentence on McAteer, after ruling he was "a dangerous offender", told him he was guilty of a "brutal, horrific attack" on an elderly man, living alone.

The Belfast Crown Court judge said while McAteer later expressed his "shock and upset" and found it "hard to believe he was capable of such violence" he had left the elderly man "feeling unable to live alone without the assistance of his son and daughter".

Prosecution barrister Mark Farrell told the Belfast court that McAteer, armed with a spade forced his way into the home of the 88 year-old after breaking a number of windows.

He demanded money before ransacking the house and also cutting the pensioner with the spade.

The lawyer added that when later questioned by police McAteer claimed to have no memory, having taken a cocktail of prescription drugs washed down with a litre of vodka, but accepted "he must have done it and that he felt bad about what he had done and wanted to make a full apology".

Defence lawyer Luke Curran describing McAteer as a "troubled young male ... with limited ability".

The barrister added that McAteer's offending was tied in with drug taking, but that he was still "a young man with the potential to turn the corner".

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