Northern Ireland news

Man given suspended sentence for involvement in "organised street fight''

Charlie Valliday (25), of Angus Street in Antrim, pleaded guilty to a single charge of fighting and causing affray

AN unemployed man has been given a suspended jail sentence for his involvement in an "organised street fight''.

Charlie Valliday (25), of Angus Street in Antrim, pleaded guilty to a single charge of fighting and causing affray in west Belfast.

Belfast Crown Court heard that Valliday and others had gone to the Springfield Road to take part in a prearranged street fight on September 21, 2020.

Prosecutor Robin Steer said the fight was recorded on mobile phones and later shared on social media channels.

He told Judge Paul Ramsey QC that the fight started in an alleyway in Iris Street before spilling onto the Springfield Road.

Valliday was seen fighting with a member of a rival group and as the fight moved onto the Springfield Road, motorists had to stop their cars and turn around, the court heard.

The following month, the defendant was interviewed by police and in a prepared statement said he was defending himself and believed one of his attackers had a knife and he was also struck on the head with a hurl.

Mr Steer said Valliday had 21 previous convictions including entries on his record for assault occasioning actual bodily harm, possession of an offensive weapon and having an article with a blade.

The prosecutor added that among the aggravating factors were that "this was a planned fight and not something that happened spontaneously and there were a series of incidents and not a one-off incident. The fight was witnessed by members of the public as it spilled onto the road''.

Defence barrister Aaron Thompson said Valliday had "expressed his regret and remorse'' for his involvement but said it was accepted he was not an "organiser of the fight''.

He told Judge Ramsey that Valliday had a long history of mental health probems and drug addiction issues.

"He has now vastly diminished his use of drugs but he says he would now smoke the occasional joint so he is not making a secret of it,'' said Mr Thompson.

The defence lawyer said the videos showed a hurl being swung at Valliday and his brother which "broke at one point and is then used in a stabbing motion towards him''.

"He accepts that by kicking out during the fight that this goes beyond self defence. He thought someone had a knife and this is why he kicked out. He wasn't a party to setting up the fight. He doesn't even have a phone,'' said Mr Thompson.

"Some of the behaviour on both sides was a lot worse than what Charlie Valliday had done.''

Judge Ramsey noted that Valliday was assessed by the Probation Service as a high likelihood of re-offending but did not pose a danger to the public. The judge said Valliday was an "active and enthusiastic participant'' in the fight but was not one of the organisers.

Suspending the prison sentence, Judge Ramsey told Valliday that if he was involved in further offences, particularly public order offences, over the next two years, he would be brought back to court and the 18 month sentence would be made consecutive to any other sentence imposed.

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