Men sentenced for city centre “fracas”

Four men who were involved in a “fracas” in Derry city centre after one of them was assaulted were sprayed with CS gas by police.

The men appeared at Derry Magistrates Court last week to be sentenced on charges of assault on police, disorderly behaviour and resisting police.

They were 36-year-old James Long, of Ash Avenue, Bready, 38-year-old Robin Mutch, of Danton Manor, Artigarvan and brothers 31-year-old Richard Spence, of Lowerton Road, Ballymagorry and 33-year-old Robert Ian Spence, of Killyclooney Road, Donemana.

The court heard that police were alerted to an on-going fight by CCTV and when they arrived at the tail end of the incident Richard Spence was lying on the ground with a “bad head injury”.

Officers gave him first aid and attempted to “restore order”, however a number of them were assaulted.

The police withdrew their batons and deployed CS spray during the incident which lasted around 20 minutes.

Defence counsel Eoghan Devlin, representing the Spence brothers, told the court a third party had taken issue with a “friendly comment” Richard Spence made to a police officer and “he was set upon and a fracas broke out”.

He said the three other defendants were trying to split this up when police arrived and the offences were “born out of confusion and frustration”.

Defence counsel for Long and Mutch, Stephen Mooney, said he had no doubt that neither of the men would appear in court again.

Deputy District Judge Terence Dunlop accepted the incident was out of character for all the defendants and “no doubt the conviction is punishment enough due to the shame and embarassment caused”.

Robert Spence was fined £200, Richard Spence was fined £100, Long was given an absolute discharge and Mutch was fined £100 and given an absolute discharge.