Northern Ireland

Women appeal sentence for assault on Sinn Fein aide

Two teenage women who attacked a Sinn Fein member in Rathfriland have appealed against their sentences.

Jenna McDowell, of Spelga Drive, Rathfriland, and Danielle McCutcheon, of Bronte Road, Ballinaskeagh, were originally given two-month sentences.

The pair admitted assaulting Noeleen McPolin, a personal assistant to Education Minister Caitriona Ruane at the time, and her friend Roisin Lynch.

Judge Kevin Finnegan will reveal his decision later this month.

The former education minister was in court supporting Ms Lynch, who is an independent member of the Newry and Mourne District Policing Partnership.

The appeal hearing was held at Newry Courthouse on Wednesday and the court heard defence counsel argue that the original sentences handed down to the two young women were "disproportionate and unreasonable".

But the prosecution said that 19-year-old McDowell and 18-year-old McCutcheon had chased the two women into the driveway of a house where they attacked them.

The court heard Ms McPolin and her friend were walking along John Street in Rathfriland on 24 March 2011 when the attack took place.

McDowell punched Ms McPolin in the head and McCutcheon grabbed her by both her arms and pushed her arm. McDowell then kicked out at Roisin Lynch.

McDowell pleaded guilty to assault causing actual bodily harm and common assault and McCutcheon pleaded guilty to common assault.