A 24-years-old man who knocked a victim’s teeth out during an altercation outside Hillbilly’s Fried Chicken Express last summer, has received a six month suspended sentence and fined £350 at Derry Magistrate’s Court.
Benjamin Gerard O’Connor, of Knockwellan Park, pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm, when appearing at Bishop Street on Friday.
A Public Prosecution Service (PPS) solicitor told the court that the assault occurred on the Strand Road outside the fast food outlet on June 13, 2016,
According to the PPS, the injured party told police that approximately five minutes after an initial confrontation O’Connor punched him twice in the face knocking out two of his teeth.
During police interview the defendant made full admissions. He told police there had been “a bit of mouthing” between himself and the injured party but that this had “calmed down.”
O’Connor said he only struck out after the injured party approached him and put his hands around his neck.
The PPS solicitor said O’Connor told police he remembered catching the victim with a punch and seeing one of his teeth falling out.
“I admit that was a lucky shot,” he reportedly said.
According to the PPS the victim lost three teeth as a result of the assault.
CCTV footage captured by cameras outside Hillbilly’s was shown to the court on Friday.
The video showed a group of young men - including both the defendant and the injured party - gathered in what appeared to be animated discussion.
O’Connor’s defence counsel, Eoghan Devlin noted, during observation of the footage, the injured party being restrained by a friend and apparently led away. However, the video showed the injured party returning and a fight breaking out and eventually spilling across the Strand Road.
Mr. Devlin observed: “The court can see for itself what happened.”
He said that whilst he wasn’t going to make any comment on the veracity of the injured party’s account: “You can see with your own eyes who started it.”
Mr. Devlin suggested his client’s account had been borne out by the CCTV evidence.
Deputy District Judge Noel Dunlop, having viewed the CCTV footage and heard submissions, noted that O’Connor was facing “a very serious charge,” that the injured party had suffered “horrific injuries” and that the court had to treat the charge seriously.
Fining O’Connor £350 he suspended a six month jail term for two years.
District Judge Dunlop ruled that there should be no Compensation Order made to the injured party “on the basis of what I’ve seen.”