Northern Ireland

Brother of Arthur McElhill sentenced for wife assault

The brother of a man who set fire to his Omagh home killing himself and his family has avoided going to prison after admitting attacking his wife.

Cathal McElhill, 40, brother of Arthur McElhill, had been drinking heavily when he punched, choked and head-butted his wife who was 16 weeks pregnant.

McElhill from Caldragh Road in Kinawley, County Fermanagh, was put on probation for 18 months.

A judge denied a request to issue a ban preventing reporting of his case.

At a previous hearing Judge Liam McNally said he had to bear in the mind the family background.

He said that McEhill's brother had commited the "ultimate act of domestic violence" when he killed his partner, Lorraine McGovern, and their five children by burning down their home in Omagh in November 2007.

The judge said the fire was a "red light" to the court in dealing with the defendant.

'Unfair burden'

In court on Wednesday, defence solicitor Gary Smyth said that the media coverage of the case would add to the sentence, and said it placed an unfair burden on the extended family.

Judge McNally said he had been asked by McElhill's wife to issue a media ban.

However he said it was in the public interest to see how the court dealt with the charges which carry a maximum sentence of 6 months imprisonment.

The judge added that it was a "very serious" assault and normally a custodial sentence would be appropriate.

He said he had deferred sentencing to see how McElhill dealt with conditions previously imposed and was "very happy" with the results.

He said the the defendant had co-operated 100% with every test, including a six-week residential alcohol addiction programme.

He had also not drunk alcohol since the attack, and had attended a domestic abuse programme.

More on this story