Northern Ireland

Man jailed for attack on former schoolmate

court
Image caption The judge described it as an "unprovoked, unexpected and vicious assault"

A County Down man who "glassed" a former schoolmate in an unprovoked attack has been jailed for two years after he agreed to spend a futher two years on probation.

Patrick Joseph Russell, 26, from Shore Road in Killough pleaded guilty in April to wounding Kevin Crothers in a bar in Downpatrick in March 2009.

Mr Crothers suffered a 6cm laceration to his head.

Judge Lockie said it as an "unprovoked, unexpected and vicious assault".

Downpatrick Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, was told that Kevin Crothers was drinking in the Cabin Bar in Downpatrick on 1 March 2009 when he asked Russell about difficulties between him and his cousin.

Mr Crothers, who went to school with Russell, told police in a statement he had mentioned it in "a friendly way" but that Russell had then sworn at him and that when he walked away, Russell smashed a glass into his head just behind his right ear.

Prosecuting lawyer Nicola Auret told the court Mr Crothers was left with a 6cm laceration which needed to be stitched, adding that during later police interviews, Russell refused to answer police questions.

Judge Norman Lockie told Russell, that despite his victim's plea that his attacker was not sent to jail, "I consider that an immediate custodial sentence must be imposed in view of your past criminal behaviour and the serious nature of the offence."

Having outlined Russell's criminal record with seven convictions for assaults and two entries for possessing a weapon, the judge warned Russell that any future offending could lead to a court labelling him as a danger to the public and longer terms of imprisonment.

On the morning his trial was due to start in April, Russell pleaded guilty to wounding Mr Crothers with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

Ms Auret told the court in the Crown view, the offence was aggravated because drink was involved, Russell had used a weapon, because of his previous convictions for violence and because it had been an unprovoked attack.

Defence QC Eugene Grant said there had been ongoing problems between Russell and Mr Crothers' cousin and that the "last thing that should be done is to discuss it between them in drink".

He said that father-of-one Russell, who continually fought back emotions throughout the half-hour hearing, had shown considerable and genuine remorse for what had happened.

Handing down the jail and probation terms, Judge Lockie said Russell had committed an "unprovoked, unexpected and vicious assault".