'˜Teen' avoids custodial sentence for assault after flat fire

A Derry teenager who attacked a man as police were investigating the cause of a fire in his home over Christmas, has escaped going to jail.

Thursday, 27th December 2018, 3:16 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th January 2019, 11:02 am

Niall McCann (19), of McCorkell House, Bridge Street, pleaded guilty to common assault following the incident on December 23.

The court heard how a PSNI Crime Scene Investigation Team were investigating the fire at McCann’s home when the assault took place in a neighbouring property.

An investigating officer told the court that police attended the property where McCann had been waiting until the CSI team finished their investigations.

Police witnessed McCann punch the injured party - the partner of the occupant - several times in the head, the court heard.

During police interview following his arrest, McCann claimed there had been an altercation and told the PSNI that the injured party had made an attempt to headbutt him.

However, an investigating officer told the court that police attending the property had seen no such headbutt attempt.

A defence solicitor for McCann told the court how her client had encountered a “very difficult situation” in returning home to a flat that had been damaged by fire.

She also pointed out that McCann had not come to the attention of police since last February and that since that time he had spent some time as Grangewood Hospital in Gransha and had undergone some rehabilitation.

District Judge, Ted Magill, sentencing, noted that McCann had been in breach of a Conditional Discharge Order for the same offence that runs until 2020.

However, he spared the defendant a custodial sentence due to the credit owed to him for an early guilty plea.

McCann was fined £100 and ordered to pay a £15 offender levy.