A drunk loyalist bandsman who punched a parade marshal unconscious at a Twelfth parade has narrowly escaped a prison sentence.
Ordering Ian Rowan to complete 200 hours of community service as a direct alternative to custody, District Judge Nigel Broderick told the 42-year-old that initially “custody was very much in my mind” but given his guilty plea and other personal mitigation “the balance is just tipped” away from sending him to jail.
Rowan, from Doric drive in Larne, earlier entered a guilty plea to causing actual harm on July 12 and a prosecuting lawyer told the court that at about 6pm during a return parade, police officers saw Rowan approach a marshal and punch him once to the face.
The blow caused the victim to fall onto the roadway and the lawyer said police estimated he was unconscious for “five to eight minutes” but thankfully, there had been no other injury or damage suffered.
Defence solicitor Richard Monteith said the men were “known to each other within the parading community” and outlined how Rowan was playing in a band at the July 12 parade.
“The defendant’s problem is that by the time this parade was almost over, by his own admission, he had taken too much alcohol,” said the solicitor adding that Rowan had written a letter of apology to the man he punched unconscious.
Describing how the marshal had been debating with a car driver who was trying to turn in to the parade, Mr Monteith said that for Rowan his reaction to that situation and why he lashed out “is a bit of a mystery to him” but he conceded the defendant had reacted “in a completely unjustifiable way”.
Sentencing Rowan, DJ Broderick said it was the “sad experience of this and many other courts to deal with fatal one punch cases”.
“They can have serious consequences,” said the judge, “because the simple fact is that when you punch someone and they fall to the ground, if they don’t have their faculties about them they can hit their head on a very hard surface.”
He told Rowan while there were no further injuries or consequences, he had no doubt that “the emotional trauma of being assaulted in this manner will last much longer than the pain of the physical assault”.
As well as the 200 hour CSO, DJ Broderick ordered Rowan to pay £1,000 compensation to his victim.