A man who assaulted his sister following an argument, leaving “blood running down her face”, has been handed a suspended sentence.
Mark Magee, with an address in Wrexham, Wales, appeared before Craigavon Magistrates’ Court on Friday via videolink from Maghaberry.
The 49-year-old was charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
The court heard that he had been originally been granted bail to his address in Wales and a pre-sentence report was ordered. He then applied for a job that required a police check and was brought back to Northern Ireland last weekend.
“I sort of hoped he’d stay there,” District Judge Bernie Kelly quipped.
On hearing that the pre-sentence report came from the Probation Board in Wales, District Judge Kelly said: “That’s no good to me…a community order in Wales is out of the question.”
The prosecution outlined that on September 22, 2021, police received a 999 call from the defendant, who sounded “highly intoxicated”, alleging that he had been assaulted by his sister.
During this phone call, the defendant admitted to assaulting his sister and also threatened to assault her again.
Police attended the scene, where they observed the injured party in the street.
The court heard: “She had blood running down her face and significant swelling to her left eye… she had cuts on her face and arms. There was a significant amount of blood which had run from her face onto her lower body.”
She told police that she had been assaulted by the defendant, by him punching her to the face and then kicking her multiple times in the face when she was on the ground. She stated that they had had an argument after drinking “large amounts of alcohol”.
Police located the defendant a short distance from the location of the incident.
He was arrested and made statements thereafter including, “I didn’t mean to hit her” and “It was an accident”.
Police also observed blood on the defendant’s hands, jumper and trousers. He stated that it was his sister’s blood.
A defence solicitor told the court that the defendant had accepted responsibility for the offence at the earliest opportunity, conceding that it was a “very unsavoury” incident.
She explained that the injured party did not want to proceed with the case, but the Prosecution had to proceed given the admissions that were made at the scene and during the 999 call.
The defence told the court that this type of behaviour was “entirely out of character” and this was his first conviction for an offence of this nature.
She added that her client had a “very difficult childhood” and that he was engaging with a number of organisations to deal with that trauma.
It was explained that the defendant had returned to Northern Ireland from Wales for his brother’s funeral. He had consumed significant amounts of alcohol and an argument broke out between he and his sister.
“He had completely overreacted and responded in the way that he did,” the defence said.
District Judge Kelly said that this was a “very difficult” sentencing exercise, noting that had the incident been more severe he would have ended up in the Crown Court.
However, she said: “He pleaded guilty in the face of the fact that the injured party was never going to give evidence.”
Despite this, District Judge Kelly noted: “The difficulty is this is domestic violence and that cannot be ignored….It’s a fairly nasty incident.”
Given that the defendant had not offended in the 18 months since the offence, she added: “There does appear to the court to be a clear pathway that he has managed to indicate his capacity for rehabilitation within the community.”
To this end, District Judge Kelly imposed a sentence of six months in custody, suspended for a period of two years.
At the close of the hearing, Magee commented over the videolink: “I do voluntary work in Wales and I haven’t been drinking since the last 18 months anyway.”
District Judge Kelly responded that she would normally have given an immediate custodial sentence, but stayed her hand given the mitigating factors of the early plea, the lack of record and the time since the commission of the offence.