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Three people drove from Co Armagh to Newtonabbey to beat up ex’s former partner

A man was driven from Lurgan to Newtownabbey by a female friend and his then girlfriend to attack her former partner, a court has heard.

John Patrick Paul Smith, 31 of Drumellan Gardens, Craigavon, was sentenced to 15 months; half of which will be spent behind bars.

His former partner Maria Ward, 34, of Moyraverty Court, Craigavon, was put on probation for a year and ordered to complete 50 hours community service.

The female friend, Toni O’Neill, 27, of Windsor Hill, Waringstown, who drove the pair, was given a four-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months.

All three pleaded to assault occasioning actual bodily harm, while Smith also admitted possessing an offensive weapon, namely a mop.

The nasty incident happened during the early hours of July 24, 2016 when O’Neill drove Smith and Ward, who had both been drinking, to confront Ward’s former partner in Newtonabbey.

Belfast Crown Court heard how the injured party was left with cuts and bruises following the attack but stressed, through his lawyer, that he did not want to see his former partner jailed.

The court heard that O’Neill did not take part in the attack but her presence acted as encouragement for an already volatile situation.

Judge Geoffrey Miller QC said he did not believe the lies of Smith and Ward, saying the distance travelled to confront the injured party was an aggravating factor.

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