Northern Ireland

Man (26) avoids jail for role in Co Down disorder

The sentence was imposed at Downpatrick Crown Court, sitting in Belfast,
The sentence was imposed at Downpatrick Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, The sentence was imposed at Downpatrick Crown Court, sitting in Belfast,

A 26-year old man today avoided a jail term for his role in a violent melee in Co Down where a father and son were both injured.

Steven Hallett, from Ballaghbeg Park in Newcastle, was handed a 15-month sentence, which was suspended for three years for his involvement in the August 2018 incident.

The sentence was imposed at Downpatrick Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, by Judge Geoffrey Millar QC.

The court heard a 21-year old man had just left a bar in Newcastle when he saw Hallett walking with a female on Main Street and the two men became embroiled in a verbal argument resulting in the pair pushing each other.

Hallett made his way to the promenade, where a second altercation took place involving others, and he was struck several times by the 21-year old.

As the trouble unfolded the 21-year old was hit - but not as a result of Hallett's actions.

Judge Miller said Hallett admitted a charge of common assault on the grounds of joint enterprise as he was part of the assault on the 21-year old.

After being assaulted, the 21-year old rang his father (51) whose arrival on the scene was captured on CCTV.

Judge Millar said footage showed him and his son chasing Hallett and the son being tripped up by an unknown male, resulting in him falling rendering him unconscious.

When his father went to check on him, the older man kicked out at a person near his son who was not Hallett, leading to a brief struggle.

Shortly after Hallett was captured on CCTV punching the older man who fell to the ground, struck his head and was knocked out. He was treated for a head wound in hospital, while his son sustained bruising and swelling to his head and face.

Hallett left the scene but was arrested at his home.

During interview, he said the 21-year old had instigated the first incident, but admitted punching the son and father, claiming self-defence.

Hallett - who has 42 previous convictions including violent offences - pleaded guilty to assault on the son and assaulting his father occasioning actual bodily harm.

Passing sentence, Judge Millar spoke of the punch thrown at the older man, which he said "whilst his injuries were not insignificant, the situation could have been much worse as tragically, as this court knows only too well, single-punch cases in such circumstances can frequently lead to death".

Judge Millar imposed a 15-month sentence, which he suspended, and warned Hallett that any further offending over the next three years would result in a return to court.

Also issued against Hallett was a three-year restraining order banning him from contacting or threatening the father and son injured.