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Man threatened to burn hostel down after assaulting two female staff members

A man who assaulted two female hostel staff members while on probation has been given a suspended prison sentence in order to deal with his alcohol problem.

Francis Devine, 26, appeared before Craigavon Magistrates’ Court on Friday charged with two counts of assault and one of threatening to damage property.

The incident occurred on February 17, at around 10pm. The defendant had a bottle of Buckfast confiscated from him at the Simon Community, Edward Street Hostel in Portadown.

After this Devine began “going mad” and was aggressive towards two female members of staff, the court heard.

The two females ran to an office where they locked themselves in to escape the defendant and contact police.

While the two contacted police Devine threatened to “wreck the place” and “burn the place down”.

Police later arrested the defendant on Castle Street and when interviewed he made no comment.

Defence counsel told the court that the defendant had only, just prior to the incident, been released from a four-year stay in Maghaberry.

They explained that alcoholism was Devine’s main problem and he was very lucky to have a probation officer who was sympathetic to his problem.

Court heard that the defendant wanted to seek rehabilitation for his addiction.

The defence stated that Devine was not from Portadown but had been assigned the hostel as a bail address; he now resided with his aunt.

They went on to say that in the hostel he had felt isolated and turned to alcohol, even though he knew it was not allowed.

It was revealed by the defence that the Devine did not remember much of the incident but claimed he never intended to burn the place down.

Deputy District Judge Des Perry sentenced Devine to six months imprisonment suspended for two years.

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