Three men who assaulted Jeff Commander in September 2005 after he intervened in a row arising from the murder of Robert McCartney have been given conditional discharges. Originally charged with unlawful and malicious wounding, which they had denied, Samuel Edward Caskey, Sean Clinton, and Patick Magee today pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm. They have been given conditional discharges for 18 months. Another man, Gerard Leonard, 33, pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of an offensive weapon and received a conditional discharge for 12 months. Added Link and other referencesFrom the BBC report
Crown prosecutor Stephen Fowler told Judge Desmond Marrinan that a dispute surrounding the murder of local man Robert McCartney broke out between two groups in the Short Strand and that Mr Commander was one of a number of people who intervened to stop the fighting.
After calm was restored, Mr Commander left the scene with his wife but returned a short time later to retrieve his car.
The barrister said a crowd of “eight to 10 men who had with them sewer rods” approached Mr Commander and while Clinton was armed with a sewer rod, Caskey and Magee were part of the group.
John McCrudden QC, representing Clinton, described his client as an “interface worker” and said the attack on Mr Commander was a “misunderstanding”.
Magee’s barrister, Arthur Harvey, branded Mr Commander’s actions in the incident prior to his attack as “admirable”, saying it was clear the victim was “attempting to calm over-excited individuals.”
Caskey’s barrister, Eilish McDermott, said her client, was also forced to leave the Short Strand area “where he had been living all his life”.
Martin Morgan, representing Leonard, told the court there was “nothing sinister” about his actions on the night in question, adding he was brandishing the knife as an act of bravado before leaving the scene.
Judge Marrinan accepted the defendants had shown remorse over the attack on Mr Commander, who he said was “an entirely innocent man trying to resolve a difficult and tense situation.”
Telling Caskey, Clinton and Magee they had been “significantly punished” by spending time in custody and being forced to move from their homes, Judge Marrinan handed all three a conditional discharge for 18 months before adding: “I trust that all of you will be able, if you wish, to return to your homes which you are now perfectly entitled to do.”
[Move along now, nothing to see here? – Ed]