Derry Court: Four sentenced for assault

Derry's Courthouse on Bishop Street. 3003JM66
Derry's Courthouse on Bishop Street. 3003JM66

Two couples have been sentenced for an assault in which a man was kicked as he lay on the ground.

One of the defendants, 21-year-old David Joseph Allen admitted a ‘callous, pathetic and cowardly’ assault on two females who intervened.

Allen, of Joseph Place, pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm and common assault.

His girlfriend, 22-year-old Nadine Lynch, also of Joseph Place, admitted common assault.

Hazel Marie Coulter, the 42-year-old mother of Lynch, pleaded guilty to two charges of common assault.

Her partner 33-year-old Fergal Collins, of Four Seasons, Star Factory, pleaded guilty to common assault and causing damage to a police statement.

The charges relate to an incident in the Millar Street area of the city on April 28, 2012.

Derry Crown Court heard the injured party in the case was the boyfriend of one of Coulter’s daughters.

The 42-year-old received a phone call from her daughter in the early hours of the morning and she claimed she had been assaulted by her boyfriend.

Coulter and Collins went to Guidhall Square and took the girl home.

It was accepted by the prosecution that the injured party received an adult caution in relation to this.

The man then made his way to a friend’s house.

He was half way down the street when all four defendants approached him.

Allen threw a punch at the man, who dodged it and fell to the ground.

As the injured party lay on the ground all four defendants kicked him.

The injured party sustained a number of scrapes to his back and his arms and a bruise to his face as a result.

A woman and her mother, who were residents of Millar Street, came to the assistance of the injured party.

Counter approached the younger woman and scratched her behind the ear.

Allen then punched her to the face once and she sustained a broken nose.

He also pushed her mother, who was on crutches at the time.

During police interview, Allen, Lynch, Coulter and Collins denied involvement in the assault.

The court heard the during interview, 33-year-old Collins ripped up a police statement and threatened to damage the interview tapes.

Defence counsel for Allen, Steven Mooney, said his client wished to offer his ‘profuse apologies for the disgraceful way’ he behaved towards the two women.

He said they ‘got caught in the crossfire in his anger towards’ the male injured party.

Mr Mooney added that Allen and Lynch are due to get married on Boxing Day and an immediate custodial sentence would have a ‘knock on effect for her’.

Stephen Chapman, defending Lynch, said this was a ‘one off incident’.

He said the 22-year-old ‘doesn’t normally engage in this sort of behaviour and she is embarrassed by it’.

Defence counsel for Coulter, Eoghan Devlin, said his client wished to apologise to all parties involved.

He said it was also a one off for Coulter in an unusual set of circumstances.

Joe McCann, defending Collins, said this was a ‘disgraceful incident’ and his client accepts ‘he shouldn’t have got involved at all’.

He said the 33-year-old now knows he should have called the police and let the authorities deal with the matter’.

Passing sentence, Judge Philip Babington said ‘it was a mistake for all four of you to go back out looking for’ the injured party.

He said it was a ‘disgraceful incident’ and the ‘lesson of this is you don’t take the law into your own hands. The warning is there, don’t do it’.

Collins received a three month sentence suspended for two years, Lynch was ordered to complete 80 hours community service and Coulter was ordered to spend 12 months probation.

The judge told them ‘kicking people on the ground is cowardly and can be very serious’.

Turning to Allen, the judge said: ‘Your behaviour was totally unacceptable as you well know. People who hit women and come to this court will go straight to prison.”

He said he gave Allen’s sentence a great deal of thought and decided to suspend a nine month jail term for three years.

The judge added the assault on the woman on crutches was ‘unbelievably callous, pathetic and callous’.

He also ordered Allen to pay £400 compensation to the woman who sustained a broken nose.