Northern Ireland

Four jailed over 'appalling' Ballymena head-shaving incident

Three men and a woman have been jailed for their roles in a head-shaving incident described by a judge as an "appalling" act of degradation.

The victim had her head dry-shaved by three men who then tried to burn the remainder of her hair while she was unconscious.

The incident occurred at a flat in Ballymena, County Antrim, in May 2013.

The victim was slapped by the trio and the entire episode was filmed on a mobile phone.

The woman doing the filming, Paula Wilson, 22, from Main Street, Cullybackey, was given a 32-month sentence, half of which will be spent in custody with the remaining 16 months spent on supervised licence.

Wilson, who the court heard gave three conflicting versions of events prior to sentencing, admitted two counts of aiding and abetting assault occasioning actual bodily harm and aiding and abetting common assault.

Previous convictions

Paul Joshua Balmer, 42, from Crosshill Views, Kells, denied involvement and contested the matter but was found guilty by a jury at Antrim Crown Court on three charges last September.

Balmer, who committed the offences two days after he was released from prison, was found guilty of two charges of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and common assault.

The heroin addict, who has 261 previous convictions, was given a five-year sentence, half of which will be spent in prison with the remaining half of the sentence served on licence when he is released from custody.

Two Ballymena men, 23-year old Alister William Hamilton from Drumtara and Nathan Telford, also 23 and from Wilson Avenue, pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm and common assault.

Telford received a 40-month sentence, half of which will be served in custody with the remaining 20 months on licence.

Hamilton was sentenced to 36 months with half spent in custody with the other half on supervised licence upon his release.

The judge described the victim as "comatose" and "extremely vulnerable".

After passing sentence, the judge said: "Should this case come before the Court of Appeal, then that court should be shown the recorded footage of the entire episode."

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