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Suspended jail for Keady man who swung bat and threw items at police attending fire at his home

Police used riot shields to pin him to a wall, where he resisted arrest and had to be handcuffed before being taken to Craigavon Area Hospital

Armagh Courthouse

A Keady man who threw items at a police officer who attended a fire at his home has been handed a suspended prison sentence.

The 27-year-old’s barrister told court his client had “struggled with addiction and structure”, but had recently found work in the Republic of Ireland.

Sean McGonnell, of Church Street, appeared for sentencing on three counts of assault on police and resisting police at Armagh Magistrates’, sitting at Newry, via videolink from his solicitor’s office.

Prosecution outlined that on June 9, 2019, police received a report that a male had started a fire in his home.

Officers arrived at the address and it was found that the fire appeared to have emanated from an oven.

They were confronted by this defendant, who swung a bat and threw items from the property at officers.

Police used riot shields to pin him to a wall, where he resisted arrest and had to be handcuffed before being taken to Craigavon Area Hospital.

Last week, during a contest, defence barrister Kevin O’Hare argued that this was a case of “double jeopardy” in which his client had already been punished for the offence after having his licence recalled.

However, Deputy District Judge Philip Mateer ruled that this was not the case and convicted McGonnell, adjourning the case a week for sentencing.

On Friday, prosecution outlined that the licence related to a robbery offence dealt with on August 30, 2018, for which the defendant was handed a two year and three month sentence, half in custody and half on licence.

Mr O’Hare stated: “It is his case that the fire was an accident, albeit his intoxicated state did lead to the accident.”

Telling court that his client “struggled with addiction and structure”, the barrister stated that McGonnell had found work in the Republic of Ireland.

He commented: “It would appear that the recall of his licence has done him some good.”

Deputy District Judge Mateer stated: “I take into account everything that has been said on your behalf in imposing the appropriate sentence. You didn’t plead guilty but that was over a legal issue.

“On this occasion, the police came to you over concerns for you own safety and you assaulted three police officers and refused to co-operate with a fourth.”

McGonnell was sentence to four months in prison suspended for three years.

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