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Man who assaulted pensioner and struck his guide dog sentenced to seven months in prison

The deputy district judge said: 'This partially sighted man did not know what to expect at his door. He did not expect to be assaulted. "He did not expect his guide dog to be struck in the belly, all in the presence of his wife'

Armagh Courthouse

A Newry man who assaulted a partially sighted pensioner and struck his guide dog in the belly has been handed a seven month prison sentence.

Sentencing the 33-year-old, the deputy district judge stated: “You have a very bad criminal record. It would appear everything else has been tried and a custodial sentence is appropriate in this case.”

Joseph Patrick Magee, of St Mary Street, appeared for sentencing on assault occasioning actual bodily harm, causing unnecessary suffering to an animal and two counts of theft at Armagh Magistrates’, sitting at Newry, on Tuesday.

As he appeared via videolink from Maghaberry, the defendant confirmed his plea and stated that he was “remorseful” for his actions.

These charges were accrued by the defendant over two separate incidents, the court heard.

Prosecution outlined that on July 5, of 2019, police received a report of thefts from Eurospar on Thomas Street, Armagh.

Police viewed CCTV which showed a male, who they identified as the defendant, entering the store at 4pm and again at 8pm.

On the first occasion, Magee left without paying for a bottle of Buckfast and upon returning the second time he stole two bottles of the same tonic wine.

The defendant was subsequently arrested and during an interview, at Lurgan Custody Suite, he made full admissions to these offences.

Then at 11pm on November 6, of last year, police received a report of a male kicking at a door of a flat at Patrick’s Fold on Scotch Street in Armagh. There was also further report of an unconscious male at the same address.

Officers spoke to the occupier. He stated that he had been watching TV with his wife when he heard the loud banging at the door.

He went to the door where he was met by an intoxicated male, identified as the defendant, who pushed his way into the property.

Magee then punched the injured party once to the eye and once to the nose, before taking a swipe at his guide dog.

The victim alleged that the defendant passed out at the time due to breathlessness. A neighbour arrived and found Magee lying on top of the injured party who was bleeding from his nose.

The defendant was arrested and during interview denied any wrongdoing during the incident.

Prosecution informed the court that the injured party was a 73-year-old partially sighted male.

Defence solicitor Kevin McDonnell stated that the theft matters were “unsophisticated” with his client returning on the same day, to the same store to steal the same item.

With regard to the second incident, the solicitor explained that having gone to England for a year Magee had returned to this jurisdiction and at the time had been residing with his uncle, who lives next door to the injured party.

He stated: “He was highly intoxicated and he thought that his uncle was not letting him into the property.”

Mr McDonnell said that since being in Maghaberry Magee had been in contact with the chaplain and he had secured accommodation to reside at upon release.

Deputy District Judge Philip Mateer acknowledged that the defendant had shown remorse but stated: “This partially sighted man did not know what to expect at his door. He did not expect to be assaulted.

“He did not expect his guide dog to be struck in the belly, all in the presence of his wife. You have a very bad criminal record. It would appear everything else has been tried and a custodial sentence is appropriate in this case.”

The defendant was sentenced to seven months in prison.

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