A Portadown man with 131 convictions – who smashed a shop window and fought with police – has been sentenced to six months in prison.
Ryan Pepper, of Westland Road, appeared before Craigavon Magistrates’ Court, via video-link from Maghaberry.
The 29-year-old was charged with two counts of criminal damage, attempted criminal damage, two counts of common assault, two counts of assault on police, resisting police and disorderly behaviour.
The defendant had reportedly entered the shop and walked to the back and into the store room, looking to speak to one of the injured parties. She asked him to leave multiple times, as he was “barred from the shop”.
The defendant refused to leave and proceeded to video the injured party, stating that he “had money for her”.
He then left the shop, but returned approximately an hour later, wanting to speak to the injured party again, who was now in the office area of the shop. She again asked him to leave, and at this stage the defendant started to “continually verbally abuse her”.
The injured party managed to get the door of the office closed, and then went out to the tills of the shop when she thought the defendant had left.
At the tills, she noticed the defendant standing in the queue, after which she again told him to leave, to which he did not reply.
She then told a fellow staff member not to serve the defendant. The defendant then said that he would “serve himself” and proceeded to try to walk behind the tills.
The injured party tried to stop him from going behind the till and he got into her face, after which she pushed him back and told him to get out.
The defendant then hit the visor of the tills and “put both females in fear of violence, causing both of them alarm and stress”.
The court heard that he was going to “wreck the place” and pull the injured party “out by the head”.
The defendant then left the store and around five minutes later returned with a brick in his hand. He threw it at the shop window, causing it to smash, and then walked away from the shop.
When police arrived, they arrested the defendant, after which he began to resist officers.
He said he was going to “kick the car and kick the police in the face”, after which he attempted to bite one of the officers on the left knee and headbutted the officer on the leg.
This behaviour spurred one of the officers to “take him to the ground in a controlled manner”.
Whilst on the ground, it is reported that he was spitting at all of the officers and also bit an officer on the right knee. He also kicked one of the officers. He was further arrested for assaulting and resisting police.
Aaron Thompson BL, defending, said that the defendant had a “very poor, long record” and that he has had drug issues in the past.
He said “it’s not as if he’s just on a complete rampage against unknown people to him”, noting that the defendant had connections with a relative of the injured party.
He added that, despite Pepper’s “many failings”, the defendant had been handcuffed and couldn’t stop his fall.
“Police put him to the ground and he smashed his face off the ground and split his head open. He had to be taken twice to hospital out of police custody,” Mr Thompson said.
“All of his behaviour in and around that is a complete loss of temper…He would be the first to accept that, in times of real stress, he behaves really badly and he loses control.”
Deputy District Judge Magill said that while the defendant was entitled to credit for his plea of guilty, had he contested, he would have been found guilty and received a “lengthy” custodial sentence.
Deputy District Judge Magill added that Pepper “didn’t do himself any good in interview”, and was noticeably shocked when he read that the defendant had 131 prior convictions.
For the charges of criminal damage, attempted criminal damage and the assaults that took place at the shop, Deputy District Judge Magill imposed three month sentences for each of the charges, to run concurrently.
For the assaults on police, resisting police, disorderly behaviour and damaging the cell van, he imposed further three month sentences.
“They will all be concurrent with each other, but consecutive to the incidents at the Spar,” said Deputy District Judge Magill.
“That’s a total therefore of six months.”