A Co Armagh man who spat at a person he accused of “setting him up” to be assaulted has been sentenced to three months in prison.
Aaron Hughes, of n0-fixed-abode, appeared before Craigavon Magistrates’ Court, via videolink, from Maghaberry.
The 31-year-old appeared before the court charged with one count of common assault.
The court heard that on July 26 this year, police received a 999 call reporting an assault on the main street in Portadown.
Police met with a male whom they had previously dealt with earlier that day. At the time, the defendant had been highly intoxicated and was causing annoyance to passersby.
Following the reported assault, police witnessed the defendant once again. He was seen approaching the reporting person, but walked away upon seeing police.
The reporting person disclosed that the defendant had spat on him and “stood on his right foot, causing pain”. The defendant was then located on Thomas Street and was arrested on suspicion of common assault.
An interview took place and the defendant alleged that the reporting person had “set him up” on two previous nights to be assaulted with iron bars, and that he had been acting in self-defence.
A defence solicitor told the court that his client has since accepted that the incident wasn’t carried out in self-defence.
Explaining the background of the case, he outlined that Hughes has had “a lot of difficulties” through his childhood and that he has been “in and out” of the courts and prison.
He noted that there had been a “tailing off” in the defendant’s criminal record and he was doing “very well” for a number of years. His mental health then took a “nose dive” in recent years, leading to Hughes being homeless and “estranged from his family entirely”.
Defence added: “He actually got himself into a church and was well integrated into that church and was trouble-free through all of that time.”
While conceding that is was a “disgusting incident” and that his actions weren’t excused by the alleged “set-up”, he asked that the District Judge impose a short sentence so as to help the defendant get back on his feet.
“Once somebody falls through the cracks it’s quite difficult for them to get out of it,” he added.
District Judge Bernie Kelly, on passing sentence, said that Hughes was entitled to credit for his early plea of guilty and the time he had already spent on remand.
She imposed a sentence of three months in custody, alongside the £25 offender levy.