Strabane man jailed for eleven months over unprovoked assaults

Strabane court
A STRABANE man who seriously assaulted two males in an unprovoked attack has been sent to prison for 11 months.

Stefan Connolly (19) of Carlton Drive was jailed following the double assault on December 27 last year.

Appearing in the dock of Strabane Magistrates Court on Thursday, Connolly stared at the ground as his violence was recalled.

The court was told that at 1.30am on the night in question police received a report from a Warner Mullen of an assault inside the Fir Trees Hotel. The complainant said that he had been at the bar when he was approached by Connolly who told him he was getting a drink first.

The defendant then adopted a fighting stance only to be told by Mr Mullen that he wanted no trouble.

This was backed up by a second man, Gerard McCay, who told those involved in the altercation, “It’s Christmas, there’s no need for fighting”.

Connolly then struck McCay with what was described as “a ferocious blow”. He went down and a scuffle ensued between Mr Mullen and Connolly. As a result Mr Mullen suffered a 2cm gash to his hand after being bitten.

Mr McCay spoke to bouncers about what had happened at which point he was attacked again by Connolly.

Originally the defendant admitted assault occasioning actual bodily harm on Gerard McCay but after contest was convicted of grievous bodily harm.

He had previously admitted assault occasioning actual bodily harm on Mr Mullen and sending a serious of malicious texts in the wake of the fracas.

During an earlier hearing barrister Stephen Mooney had forecast that there was an inevitability of his client going to prison. On Thursday he revealed Connolly was in breach of several suspended sentences handed down by both the magistrates court and the crown court.

He added however that the 19-year-old “profusely apologises to both injured parties”.

District Judge Nigel Broderick said he had grave concerns about Connolly’s behaviour and the fact that both attacks had been motiveless.

He also revealed that a probation report ranked him as being of “a high likelihood of reoffending”.

Mr Broderick said he had “concerns” Connolly, telling him, “These matters are so serious that I feel the custody threshold has been crossed. I will consider the fact that you are only 19 but I cannot forget these were serious matters which had serious consequences.”

For assaulting Warner Mullen, Connolly was jailed for six months. For sending the malicious communications a further three months imprisonment was imposed and for grievous bodily harm he was sent down for seven months. All sentences will run concurrent to one another.

A four month suspended sentence handed down last December was also activated, meaning he will spend 11 months behind bars.

Judge Broderick said that while he was unable to deal with penalties handed down by the Crown Court, he was referring the matter back there. Stefan Connolly will appear before Dungannon Crown Court again on January 9.


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