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Drunk teenager threatened to get ‘top IRA man’ to burn woman’s house down

Police attended the scene in Lurgan after reports of an unknown male attempting to steal a car and fighting with people in the street

Craigavon Magistrates Court

An Antrim teenager who threatened a woman saying he would get a “top IRA man to burn her house down” whilst intoxicated in Lurgan has been given a suspended sentence.

Matthew Savage, (18), from Mull Road, appeared in the dock at Craigavon Magistrates’ Court on Friday charged with threats to damage property, common assault and interference with vehicles.

The charges relate to an incident which occurred in Lurgan on February 2 of last year.

The court was told that on that date, police attended the scene at Forest Glade in Lurgan after reports of an unknown male attempting to steal a car and fighting with people in the street.

On arrival, a man was holding the defendant to the ground. Residents told police that the defendant had been inside a vehicle and had then gone to a property and began banging on the front door.

When the injured party answered the door, the defendant punched him, leading him to fall to the ground and become involved in a struggle.

After becoming aware of what was happening, the injured party’s mother came outside. The defendant was “aggressive” towards her and threatened to get “a top IRA man to burn her house down”.

The defendant was arrested.

On being told that the defendant suffers from Autistic Spectrum Disorder and was intoxicated at the time of the incident, District Judge Bernie Kelly asked: “How much alcohol does his registered GP recommend he takes with his Autistic Spectrum Disorder?

“I can tell you the answer to that and I’m not medically qualified. None.”

District Judge Kelly added: “You cannot use a medical condition as some sort of mitigating feature when he ignores it to get himself that drunk.”

She also pointed out that at the time of the offence, the defendant was underage and was “full drunk” in Craigavon despite living in Antrim.

The defence responded that the defendant had been in Lurgan visiting a friend.

District Judge Kelly asked: “Why? On his own, at under 18 years of age, so far from home, with nobody looking out for him, given his medical condition?

“This case proves that when he mixes alcohol with his medical condition, it increases his vulnerability, not decreases it.”

The defence told the court that the defendant was “essentially stranded” and had seen the car and got into it for heat. He then went to the house for help getting home, before the altercation occurred.

On sentencing, District Judge Kelly said: “The only comfort I can take from this is that you live in Antrim and you’re not coming back here.”

For the assault, he was sentenced to three months, for the interference with the vehicle he was sentenced to one month and for the threat to damage property he was sentenced to four months.

The sentences were suspended for two years, with District Judge Kelly warning that this was the “end of the road” and that further offending would lead to jail time.

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