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Craigavon man strangled sister while intoxicated after grandmother’s funeral

The injured party told police she had returned home with her brother, who had too much to drink and had become rowdy

Craigavon Court

A Craigavon man has been jailed for strangling his sister when he was intoxicated after their grandmother’s funeral.

Thomas Burke (20), of Old Court Lodge, appeared before Craigavon Magistrates Court on Friday via videolink from Hydebank, charged with criminal damage, common assault and non-fatal strangulation.

The prosecution told the court on January 20 this year police received reports of a domestic incident at an address in Craigavon.

On arrival they spoke with the injured party who claimed her brother had assaulted her.

The family had been to her grandmother’s funeral and went out for food and drinks afterwards.

The injured party told police she had returned home with her brother, who had too much to drink and had become rowdy.

She stated he kicked the back door in, damaging the latch and smashed a light in the living room. She then entered the house and “became frustrated” with his behaviour.

She then alleged that he “lunged” at her, grabbing her by the throat and throwing her to the floor, causing a mark to her lower back. He then placed his hands around her neck and squeezed so she couldn’t breath.

Police observed bruising on the injured party’s neck and back, along with scratches. The defendant was arrested and taken to custody, making no comment throughout.

On hearing the facts, District Judge Ranaghan added there were also “degrading remarks” made to the victim as she lay on the ground.

A defence lawyer told the court the incident occurred when the defendant was in a “heightened emotional state following the death of his grandmother”, adding he had taken too much alcohol after the funeral.

He further stated the defendant had a “limited memory” of the incident and feels “absolutely dreadful” for what he put his family through.

He also said the defendant has mental health issues including anxiety and depression and is keen to reconcile with the family.

Judge Ranaghan, noting the defendant had been in custody since commission of the offence, said the defendant had already served a “considerable sentence”.

Taking into account the domestic nature of the charges, he imposed a total sentence of eight months in custody.

“I am very concerned by your actions and attitude towards your sibling, no matter how heightened your emotions were on that occasion… You’re lucky that your time in custody might bring about your release in the not too distant future,” added the Judge.

Owing to the defendant’s sister’s desire to reconcile with the defendant, Judge Ranaghan decided against imposing a restraining order.

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