Northern Ireland news

Man who punched couple in random attack avoids prison

Father-of-two Gary McComb, from Gainsborough Drive in north Belfast, admitted two counts of assault and a charge of using disorderly behaviour
Staff Reporter

A MAN who punched a couple in a random and unprovoked attack avoided being sent to jail after appearing in court.

Father-of-two Gary McComb, from Gainsborough Drive in north Belfast, admitted two counts of assault and a charge of using disorderly behaviour.

All three charges arise from an early morning incident in the Hill Street area of Belfast, during which a man and woman were both punched in the face.

A prosecutor revealed that around 1.30am on May 19, the man and woman were walking along the street when they were approached by a stranger, McComb, who asked the man "what did you say?"

Telling the court there had been "no previous altercation" between McComb and the couple, McComb initially punched the man in the mouth - then when the woman stood in front of McComb, he punched her too.

When police arrived at the scene. McComb's behaviour was such that officers had to draw their batons and use CS spray. McComb subsequently told officers he was "just disgusted with myself."

Belfast Magistrates Court heard that he also wrote a letter of apology.

Defence counsel Luke Curran said the incident was "out of character", that McComb had displayed remorse and had shown empathy for his victims. He added McComb "very much regrets this incident".

District Judge Fiona Bagnall said McComb attacked "complete strangers" who were "going about their lawful business."

She handed him a four-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, and also ordered that he pay his two victims compensation of £75 each.

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