Northern Ireland

Ryan Newberry and David Wilton jailed for racist attack

Laganside Courthouse Belfast
Image caption Belfast Crown Court heard that the two men had been on a drink and drugs binge before the attack

Two men, including a footballer who has played for the Northern Ireland Junior international team, have been jailed for a racist attack in Belfast.

Ryan Newberry, a Glentoran footballer, was given an 18 month sentence and David Wilton, was jailed for 21 months.

Newberry, of Willowfield Walk, Belfast, broke a window of a house in the east of the city and chased a Polish man from the property before he and Wilton beat the man on the street last July.

Both admitted grievous bodily harm.

Animosity

They also pleaded guilty to burglary with intent to cause damage and causing criminal damage.

Wilton, 25, admitted to a further charge of assaulting police.

The pair admitted having been on a "drink and drugs binge" prior to the attack on 13 July.

Newberry, 23, said he had little recollection of the incident except for the initial chase, as he had "been on drink and Diazepam for days" leading up to it.

The court heard Newberry, who played for the Northern Ireland Junior international team against Macedonia last year, and Wilton, from Carlingford Walk, were in Wilton's grandmother's house with others but left after Wilton said he heard noises at the back of the house and had spotted a man running away.

A prosecuting lawyer had earlier described how Wilton had previously expressed animosity towards the victim, Damien Wesolowski, and along with Newberry, had attacked a house in Killowen Street being rented by Polish tenants where they suspected the man had hidden.

'Racist and sectarian'

Wilton admitted kicking in a door at the house and chasing his victim into the street while Newberry had broken the living room window and that they had jointly beaten their victim about the head and face, leaving him lying in the street.

Mr Wesolowski was left semi-conscious, with "significant" injuries. He had sustained lacerations about his nose and mouth, suspected fractures and multiple bruising on his head and body.

The court was told that when police arrived Newberry ran off while Wilton resisted arrest, hurling threatening and sectarian abuse at one of the officers.

A number of weapons were recovered at the scene including knives and a brush shaft, though the attackers denied they had brought them to the scene or used them in the assault.

Newberry gave himself up to police shortly after, upon hearing his friend had been arrested and had expressed some regret for his victim.

In sentencing the pair the judge said "there were no mitigating factors" in an attack which he felt was "severe racist and sectarian overtones".

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