AN 18 year old Banbridge man got a brief glimpse of prison life after being held in the cells of the local Magistrates Court last Thursday.
Conor Alister from Barrack Hill appeared before Deputy District Judge Mr Rafferty charged with disorderly behaviour and assault on police following an incident outside the Belmont Hotel last month.
The assault on the police officer left him with an injured knee.
Alister was fined £200 for the assault, £100 for disorderly behaviour and ordered to pay compensation of £750 to the police officer.
Issuing a very strong warning Mr Rafferty said, “You have had 45 minutes looking at four walls and I can tell you three months will go a lot slower. I hope I have made my point completely clear.”
A PPS Prosecutor explained how on March 3 police were on public order duties outside the nightclub entrance at the Belmont Hotel.
Alister was identified to police by door staff who had to eject him from the premises earlier for causing trouble.
While police were dealing with other individuals, Alister intervened and stepped forward towards a police constable becoming verbally abusive.
Alister continued to be abusive and began to struggle before assaulting the officer by kicking his knee.
The officer’s knee was bruised and swollen.
He was arrested and cautioned but continued to be verbally abusive which was noted to be of a sectarian nature.
Solicitor Mr Donnelly said Alister appeared in court with both parents and stressed the events in question were “a disaster” for him and his family.
“He attends agricultural college in Greenmount and is very industrious. On the night in question he had five hours sleep in the previous 24 hour period. He had worked non stop then went out and consumed alcohol. He has no memory of anything.”
Mr Donnelly stressed that Alister’s parents were “mortified and disgusted.”
Mr Rafferty said, “But they are not in the dock. This reference speaks highly of the family and the parents. They are not responsible for what he did.”
Mr Donnelly said his client was extremely apologetic and offered a plea at the first opportunity.
The court heard Alister had a previous caution for similar offences but other than that had a clear record.
“He comes from a loving and caring family background and his parents are appalled at this.”
Mr Rafferty said, “Nonetheless there are too many young men who consume alcohol and assault police officers. I am sorry but an example has to be made and whether you are that example I have to decide.”
Alister was placed in custody while his visibility distraught parents left the court room.
When brought back to court 45 minutes later, Mr Donnelly urged the Judge to reconsider and give his client “a chance.”
Mr Rafferty said, “One of the reasons I did not sentence you immediately was because I wanted to reflect.”
“Young man what you did was entirely and utterly wrong. This was an appalling piece of behaviour and I saw the look of shock and horror on your mother’s face as you disappeared to the cells.
“That is a sight no parent should ever want to witness - that of their child disappearing through the door going to a prison cell.
“I want you to think long and hard of what you put them through this morning. If you are not ashamed enough about your own behaviour, you should be ashamed about what you have done to them.”
Mr Rafferty said assaults on police were viewed as most serious by the courts.
“A police officer is entitled to go to work and not come home injured just because some 18 year old has taken too much drink.”