The owner of a Chinese takeaway in Keady who wounded a man with a meat cleaver was handed an 18 month jail sentence on Tuesday suspended for two years.
Appearing at Newry Crown Court via videolink from his solicitor’s office, 47-year-old Zeng-Tong Chen pleaded guilty to wounding Dean Mallon on July 20 last year and to possessing a meat cleaver.
During his sentencing remarks, Judge Gordon Kerr QC recounted how Chen, who owns the Golden Gate takeaway on Market Street in Keady, “came into dispute” with Mr Mallon and “felt threatened by him and other persons with him”.
“As a result of being chased by the injured party and others, he decided to pick up a bottle and make as if to defend himself with the bottle,” said the judge, adding that Chen was chased towards his takeaway and home where he went inside.
The offence arose however when Chen came back outside armed with a meat cleaver and the court heard that “during the course of the dispute, Mr Mallon sustained an injury…a laceration to his right hand which required a limited amount of stitches”.
Judge Kerr said that having reached the “potential safety” of his home Chen instead opted to come back outside, something the defendant himself admits he should not have done and accepts he should have called the police.
“Such behaviour cannot be justified and could have led to greater injuries than in fact was caused,” said the judge, adding that “even allowing for the fear that he felt, deliberately bringing a weapon such as a cleaver into an aggressive situation is a serious matter which, in my view, clearly crosses the custodial threshold.”
He said the potential consequences of using knives is well known and warned that courts will mark the seriousness by imposing “significant prison sentences”.
In mitigation, however, the judge said Chen had admitted his guilt, has a clear record and “shows an awareness of the fact that he acted in the wrong way…and should’ve stayed in the premises and rung the police”.
“For those reasons I consider it appropriate to suspend the custodial sentence,” said Judge Kerr, who warned Chen that if he reoffended he would go to jail.