Five jailed for attacking former UVF man Darren Moore in Doagh bar
FIVE Co Antrim men who a judge said had meted out an "almighty beating'' to former UVF man Darren Moore in a bar were today handed prison sentences totalling 23 years.
- Joshua Wylie (20), of Galgorm Road, Ballymena received a seven year sentence after he hit Moore so hard with a baseball bat that it broke in two
- David Rush (36) of Ballyvessey Green, Newtownabbey,was handed a six year sentence
- Robert Campbell (33), of Clareville Avenue, Ballyclare, received a five and a half year sentence
- Aaron Norman Cahoon (28), of Cherrymount in Newtownabbey was handed a four and a half year sentence
- David Gibson (45), of Milewater Drive, New Mossley, received a four and a half year sentence
Wylie, Rush and Campbell had pleaded guilty to causing grievious bodily with intent on Darren Moore, a former Irish League footballer, on March 15 2017 at a bar in Doagh, Co Antrim.
Sentencing today at Belfast Crown Court, Judge Desmond Marrninan told the five men they would serve half their sentences in custody and half on licence following their release from prison.
He said Moore had been "involved in loyalist paramiltary activity'' and the motive for the attack was "revenge as he had fallen out with the group''.
The judge added that the attack had "many elements of paramilitary punishment beating but the defendants deny they were members of any such group'' but claimed they had been either "cajoled or pressed to joining the assault''.
Judge Marrinan added: "This attack was not spontaneous. It was planned with vehicles used to take people to and from the scene. There was a brief reconnaissance of the scene, various weapons including a hammer, a metal bar and a baseball bat were used to attack the victim.
"It is one thing to read about such attacks in the news or on television that occur with grim regularlity in recent times and quite often in Co Antrim.
"It is quite another matter to watch an attack actually unfold screen or DVD.
"A cold blooded decision was taken to give this man a savage and sustained beating at rush hour in a public bar in the middle of the village in Doagh.''
The judge said that "so brazen was the attack the attackers didn't bother to conceal their appearances'' to carry out the attack in the full view of other patrons.
"The number of attackers involved meant that the victim was overwhelmed easily and left with no prospect whatsoever of any self defence,'' remarked Judge Marrinan.
Cahoon and Gibson pleaded guilty to a single charge of aiding and abetting grievous bodily harm.
He said that any of the blows to the head of Moore with a claw hammer "could have been fatal'' before being attacked by Wylie with a baseball.
"Such incidents of gratuitous violence are utterly repugnant in a civilised society.
"The severity and the intensity of the attack with the use of potentially deadly weapons demonstrated the attack showed a chilling indifference to the severity of the injuries that the victim might suffer."
The court that during police interview, Joshua Wylie claimed he was "acting under duress''. He alleged that he was approached by a man and "told to carry out this attack and was given a baseball bat and that he was in fear of his life''.
The court heard from his defence counsel Paddy Lyttle QC that Wylie had owed a "£5,000 drug debt'' and carried out the attack fearing if he didn't he would get another serious beating after being assaulted months earlier.
The victim and witnesses did not cooperate with police
Speaking after the men were sentenced Detective Chief Inspector Dunny McCubbin said victims of paramlitary-style attacks are often reluctant to give a statement out of fear of reprisal.
"In this case, there was no co-operation from the victim and witnesses but our robust investigation successfully led to the prosecution of five men involved," he said.
DCI McCubbin said the investigation remained open "as there are still a number of other men who were involved in this brutal assault".