Father’s ‘sigh of relief’ as son gets suspended sentence

The courthouse at Bishop Street, Derry.
The courthouse at Bishop Street, Derry.

The father of a ‘good young man’ who kicked a man in the head outside a pub last October, breathed a sigh of relief when appearing at Derry Magistrate’s Court after his son escaped a jail sentence.

District Judge Neil Rafferty said: “The thing that should strike a dagger through your heart is the sigh from your father when I suspended the sentence.”

Sean Gallagher (28), from Garden City, was convicted of common assault; assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and disorderly behaviour inside ‘Grannie Annie’s’ Bar, Waterloo Street, on October 19 last year.

A PPS spokeswoman said one injured party told officers how he had been sitting in a chair at the top of a short flight of stairs in Grannie Annie’s when he was “punched” by the defendant and that he subsequently fell down the stairs injuring himself in the process.

The PSNI received a further report of a more serious assault outside the pub. CCTV footage showed that a second injured party swung at Gallagher but missed and that Gallagher then assaulted the man, kicking him on the head whilst he was on the ground.

The PPS said CCTV footage of the earlier incident inside the pub showed Gallagher had actually pushed rather than punched one of the victims resulting in him falling down the stairs.

A defending solicitor said Gallagher, whose parents had accompanied him to court, accepted that the CCTV footage showed what he had been doing on the night in question.

He referred to “some degree of provocation” in the attempt by the injured party to punch the defendant outside the pub.

The court was also told how Mr Gallagher made full admissions and had no record, prior to the assaults.

District Judge Neil Rafferty said: “One of the reasons I am employed to do this job on behalf of society is to express that society is absolutely fed up with young men who take too much drink and resort to violence.”

Judge Rafferty acknowledged Gallagher had lived a largely “blameless life.”

He continued: “Had this assault, in which you kicked another human being in the head been unprovoked, I would be dealing with you in a very serious way.

“No matter what happened I will still deal with you in a very serious way.”

He acknowledged a pre-sentence report had deemed Gallagher a “good young man,” presenting a “low-likelihood of reoffending,” that he had displayed “victim insight” and demonstrated “full remorse.”

On the disorderly charge he was sentenced to two months imprisonment; on the common assault charge three months imprisonment; and on the AOBH charge eight months imprisonment; all suspended for three years.