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Man who kicked and punched niece in petrol station forecourt avoids prison

Craigavon-Courthouse

A man who kicked and punched his niece in the face at a petrol station forecourt has avoided jail.

Emmanuel Whitla, 37, of Main Street, Donaghcloney appeared before Craigavon Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday afternoon charged with common assault.

The court heard how police were called to a disturbance at a BP garage on June 24, last year.

When they arrived they witnessed the defendant appear to punch and kick a woman near the ATM. When he was approached by police he began walking back to the car.

The prosecution said that CCTV images from the store showed some contact but that the footage was of poor quality.

The woman had suffered some injuries as a result of the attack but court heard how she was unwilling to co-operate with the subsequent police investigation into the matter and made no formal statement.

Whitla claimed the attack was in self-defence. When he was shown the CCTV footage he made no comment.

The court also heard how the 37-year-old has “a fairly lengthy record”, which Deputy District Judge Brian Archer described as “horrendous”.

Defence counsel argued that although his client had a poor record there was a “marked tailing off” of similar violent incidents, stating that it was almost eight years since his last conviction for assault.

He added that his client was not proud of his actions and that the relationship he previously enjoyed with his niece was “not what it was”.

Despite interacting with the injured party since the incident, he was advised by the judge to stay away from her.

Defence re-iterated the fact that his convictions for violence had tailed off and that his current partner has been a very positive influence in his life.

Summing up, Judge Archer said he would give credit to Whitla’s guilty plea and given the fact the injured party did not pursue the matter, he sentenced him to four months in prison, suspended for two years.

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