An Armagh man who punched and choked a nine-year-old boy after losing his temper has been ordered to complete 180 hours community service.
Court heard that the 67-year-old told police during interview the offence took place after he had told the children in the street to move following a football striking his car.
Malcolm Stewart, of Woodford Mews, appeared for sentencing on one count of common assault at Armagh Magistrates’ Court, sitting at Newry, on Tuesday via videolink from his solicitor’s office.
Prosecution outlined that on June 13, at around 8pm, a woman’s children were out in the street playing when her attention was drawn to noise from the street,
The lady looked out of her window to see her neighbour, this defendant, running towards her nine-year-old son with his arms outstretched.
She then observed Stewart place his hands around her son’s neck and begin to shake him. The mother called for the defendant to stop what he was doing. By this stage her son was on the ground.
The nine-year-old attempted to get up but was pulled back down by Stewart, who then proceeded to punch the child to the stomach several times.
At this point, the child’s father came out to remonstrate at the defendant and he left the scene.
Police arrived and they observed redness to the neck of the child and to the right side of his body.
Officers attended Stewart’s home and he was arrested, making immediate admissions to choking and striking the child.
The injured party was taken to hospital. Doctors were concerned about his voice box but he was too frightened to allow a camera to be used.
However, the child is going through specialised trauma and psychological treatment.
During interview, Stewart stated that after a football had struck his car he had told the children to stay away. Following this the ball had travelled alongside his car and he had lost his temper.
Defence solicitor Kevin McCamley stated that there was a “backdrop” to this offence occuring.
District Judge Bernie Kelly interjected: “I am fed up to the back teeth of people making excuses. You do not assault a child under any set of circumstances. If anything, Mr Stewart proves what I’ve always said ‘the only reason any adult assaults a child is because the adult has lost their temper’.”
Mr McCamley accepted there was “no excuse” and added: “Mr Stewart is what can only be described hitherto this incident an upstanding member of the community. He worked for the library board your worship for a very long time, retiring in 2015.
“Someone of previous good character, he has been married for 25 years, been in the same house for 39 years since 1983, with no trouble up until three years ago. It is Mr Stewart who will never live the shame of this down.”
He continued: “Mr. Stewart doesn’t shy away from this, making admissions at the first opportunity when police called to the door. He realised what he did was wrong. He knows that this is a case where the custody threshold has been crossed.”
District Judge Kelly commented: “This is a very serious offence. Any offence that involves an adult assaulting a child is a very serious offence.”
However, the district judge took into account Stewart’s previous good character, his admissions at the scene and his lack of record.
The defendant was ordered to complete 180 hours of community service.