Man admits ‘nasty sectarian assault’ at St. Columb’s Park

A Drumahoe man who admitted a ‘nasty sectarian assault’ has been ordered to complete a community service order.

John James William Starrs, of Milltown View, pleaded guilty to common assault on April 19, 2011.

Derry Crown Court heard that the injured party was in St Columb’s Park playing football with his friends when 23-year-old Starrs and a group of men walked through the park carrying boxes of beer.

They were approached by Starrs and another man who took the football from the injured party’s group and one of them was assaulted and knocked to the ground.

The injured party tried to get to his friend but Starrs stood in front of him, lunged forward and headbutted him. The 23-year-old also hit the man behind the left eye and he fell to the ground.

A prosecutor told the court when the assault was over, one of the men in Starrs’ group recognised someone in the injured party’s group and said: “We have made a mistake. We only done those boys because we thought you were fenians”.

Defence counsel Dean Mooney said the 23-year-old has “taken full responsibility for his actions and has expressed regret and remorse for them”.

He told the court Starrs has also approached the injured party and made his apologies in person.

Mr Mooney said his client has made “significant changes” to his lifestyle in the last two years and has completed an anger management programme. Ordering the 23-year-old to complete 80 hours community service, Judge Phillip Babington said “it was a “nasty sectarian assault”. He told Starrs: “If you have been in this city in the last week it would be evident to you this city has moved on. So must you”.