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Armagh man who left friend with ‘devastating’ eye injury after drunken attack avoids jail

He was ordered to pay £1,500 compensation to his victim whom a CT scan revealed had a broken eye socket in two places

A man who left a friend with a “devastating” injury following a vicious attack at his home in Armagh has walked free from court.

Patrick McCartney, of Mullacreevie Park in Armagh, was today (Wednesday) handed a two year jail sentence, suspended for three years, following the assault on July 18, 2020, which left his victim with an eye socket broken in two places.

The 32-year-old, who had contested and was subsequently convicted of the GBH charge, later told the Probation Service he was sorry and “ashamed of his behaviour”.

Newry Crown Court heard how, on July 17, 2020, the victim had gone to the home of his friend – the defendant – where they had been drinking together from 9.30pm.

The victim recalled how the defendant’s wife returned to the house at 10.30pm and that the defendant became confrontational at this point.

He remembers nothing else from then, before waking at 10.30am the following morning, having suffered serious injuries.

The court heard how the complainant ended up going to hospital for medical treatment that night.

Shortly after midnight, a witness, who was at the back of her property nearby, told how she heard shouting. She and her husband approached the back of the defendant’s address where they saw “a large male who they didn’t know at the time” dragging the victim out of the house by his T-shirt.

The witness, in her evidence, said she saw the male lifting him up and dropping him down again. The witness said she heard the victim cry out and saw the defendant punching his face. She said the victim looked unconscious.

When the police and ambulance arrived a short time later they noticed the victim had suffered extensive facial injuries and was “very distressed, as well as intoxicated”.

He was taken to Craigavon Area Hospital where it was noted the left side of his face was swollen, left pupil was restricted, he was tender on his left cheekbone and he had altered sensation on his left cheek. A CT scan revealed he had a broken eye socket in two places.

The defendant, who became aggressive towards police, was arrested for GBH and taken to Musgrave police station.

During his initial interview on July 18 he made no comment and again took a similar approach to an interview on April 24, 2021. He then provided a written statement in which he claimed self-defence.

His Honour Judge Gordon Kerr KC said the victim impact statement describes how the incident has had a “devastating negative effect on his health and his family life”.

The judge then referred to character references that described the defendant as “a hard-working, kind and caring person”, but noted that while the court is impressed by that fact, “there undoubtedly appears to be two sides him; that is the caring side and also the side that can be extremely violent for no good reason, as he was on this night”.

In coming to his conclusion, the judge said the injury was, according to expert evidence, caused by one punch and that Probation put him at a low likelihood of re-offending.

Judge Kerr referenced the fact McCartney had contested the charge and his behaviour towards the victim, that is “dragging him out the back of his house and treating him in an appalling way is an aggravating feature in the case”.

After handing down the suspended jail term, Judge Kerr, addressing McCartney directly, said: “Whilst nothing can compensate this unfortunate victim for what he has suffered, in order to mark his injury and your responsibility for it, I direct that a compensation payment of £1,500 be made to him by you.”

A restraining order of three years had previously been granted.

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