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Tandragee man who glassed victim in face jailed after judge rules prison could long after his long Covid

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A Co. Armagh man who ‘glassed’ a victim in the face was handed a 12 month sentence this week.

Having heard that staff at HMP Maghaberry could facilitate the oxygen tank needed by Ryan John McKinney as the 23-year-old suffers the effects of long Covid, Judge Roseanne McCormick QC ordered him to serve half his sentence in jail and the rest on licence conditions.

The Craigavon Crown Court Judge told McKinney that despite the “valiant efforts” of his defence counsel to convince her not to jail him, it was a case of “high culpability and significant harm caused to the victim…and requires the imposition of a deterrent sentence.”

As McKinney was led to the cells, carrying his two foot long oxygen tank, his partner burst into floods of tears in the public gallery and had to be comforted by relatives.

At an earlier hearing McKinney, from Ashtree Hill in Tandragee, entered a guilty plea to a charge of wounding his victim on 21 July 2018.

Prosecuting lawyer Joseph Murphy outlined how the victim was on the dancefloor at bar in Portadown when he had a “verbal exchange” with a girl he knew before he “felt someone push past his left shoulder.”

Reaching forward to regain his balance, the victim was punched in the face by a man wearing a blue t-shirt, leaving “blood all over his face.”

It transpired his assailant had been McKinney and he had been holding a glass when he punched the victim before leaving the bar but he handed himself into police a few days later following an appeal on social media.

The victim, said Mr Murphy, sustained a laceration below his left eye which needed six external and 20 internal stitches, adding that although initially told he may lose the sight in that eye, “he appears to have made a full recovery.”

Arrested and interviewed, McKinney claimed he was acting in defence of his girlfriend after the victim had pushed her and denied that he had a glass but by his plea he has abandoned that account.

Defence counsel Conor Lunny said McKinney had a good work record, a clear criminal record and came from a respectable and supportive family, adding that he had remorse for what happened.

“He wishes me formally and in open court to apologise sincerely to the victim,” said the lawyer who revealed that McKinney was still suffering the effects of long Covid and had to carry an oxygen tank with him at all times.

“I’m not sure how practical, for safety reasons, whether he would be allowed to carry with him a metal tank,” said Mr Lunny.

Judge McCormick adjourned for a time while the position was ascertained from prison staff and having heard that McKinney’s medical needs would be facilitated, she jailed him and ordered him to pay £1,500 compensation, telling the 23-year-old “I’m confident that you will not be over the door of a court again.”

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