Businessman given suspended jail term

Louis McLaughlin
Louis McLaughlin

A “self-made” businessman who assaulted his wife has received a suspended jail term.

Louis McLoughlin, whose address was given on court papers as Limavady Road, pleaded guilty to common assault, possession of a knife and making a threat to kill.

The charges relate to an incident at their home on June 2, last year.

Derry Magistrate’s Court heard police were called to the address by the 55-year-old’s wife who claimed she was being held against her will.

Police had to force entry to the house through patio doors and immediately saw the victim running downstairs in a “distressed” state.

She was screaming that McLoughlin had a knife. She had a small cut to her hand and a number of bumps to her head and she claimed these were caused by her husband in an attack that had gone on for more than an hour.

The court was told the woman was removed from the house and a short time later the 55-year-old appeared at the top of the stairs. When he was arrested, he replied “I am really sorry”.

During police interview McLoughlin claimed he couldn’t remember the incident because he had taken a mixture of medication and alcohol.

Defence counsel Steven Mooney said his client had no relevant convictions.

He added that McLoughlin has expressed remorse for his actions and described it as ‘madness’. The defendant also accepted there was “no justification for his behaviour”.

Mr Mooney told the court McLoughlin was not a violent man and would not be back before the court for anything of a similar nature.

He revealed that the incident happened against the backdrop of McLoughlin’s business “effectively going bust” and this put “external pressures” on his marriage.

The barrister added that the thought of an immediate custodial sentence “terrifies” McLoughlin and urged the court to give him “one chance”.

Suspending a six month jail term for two years, District Judge Barney McElholm also ordered the 55-year-old to spend 18 months on probation.

He said the assault was the result of a “misture of McLoughlin’s anger and frustration at the way his financial affairs were going and alcohol”.

The judge said that while this was not an excuse it “allows the court to consider this in the context of a one-off event that will never happen again”.

As part of the probation order, McLoughlin must complete an integrated domestic abuse programme.