Northern Ireland news

Teen jailed for swinging hammer at police

Alan Christopher Liam Hutchings (19) was caught on CCTV swinging the weapon

AN Antrim man who swung a hammer at a police constable during a "stand off" between two groups of youths in Belfast has been jailed.

Alan Christopher Liam Hutchings (19) was caught on CCTV swinging the weapon at the officer on Royal Avenue on February 7.

He admitted two offences - possessing an offensive weapon, and attempting to commit grievous bodily harm - at Belfast Crown Court.

Prosecuting barrister Gareth Purvis told Judge Paul Ramsey QC that police were called to Royal Avenue due to a "stand off between two rival groups of youths".

Confirming there was "no actual physical violence" between the groups, Mr Purvis said when police arrived, one youth was grabbed by a constable and brought to the ground.

It was while this officer was carrying out this duty that Hutchings ran at him from behind, and swung a blow at him with a hammer. The officer was able to deflect the blow, which struck his rib area, and no injuries were sustained as he was wearing body armour.

Hutchings from Woodland Grove in Antrim, and who appeared before the court with 24 previous convictions, was arrested at the scene.

Defence barrister Luke Curran spoke of his client's "chaotic" childhood, which included living with various relatives and in care homes.

Mr Curran also revealed that the recent deaths of two relatives had a "significant impact on an already troubled" young man.

Regarding the offence itself, Mr Curran said Hutchings has expressed remorse for his actions.

Judge Ramsey said that after viewing the CCTV footage, it was clear Hutchings did not pre-plan the incident but instead reacted in a spontaneous manner to the situation which arose.

Branding the incident as "very serious" and handing Hutchings a 12-month prison sentence, the judge said: "Thankfully no injuries were sustained by the officer."

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