A father of two who beat a man so badly that six metal plates had to be inserted into the victim’s face has been jailed for the “unprovoked” drunken attack.
James Arthur Jelley was one of two men who attacked a third man in the High Street area of Belfast on the evening of April 17, 2014.
The 46-year-old, from Bloomfield Road in Belfast, was handed a six-year sentence and was informed by Judge Gordon Kerr QC that he will serve half the sentence in prison, with the remaining three years on supervised licence upon his release.
Belfast Crown Court heard that despite being found guilty by a jury of causing grievous bodily harm with intent to the injured man, Jelley continues to deny involvement and maintains he is innocent.
During the trial, which was held in June, the jury heard the attack took place outside Office shoe shop at around tea-time. Prior to the assault, the injured man and his two attackers had been drinking in the same bar but did not know each other.
As the victim stood with two women on the street, he was attacked by Jelley and a co-accused who has since died.
Several onlookers witnessed the assault, during which the victim was repeatedly punched in the face and kicked in the head.
One woman who saw the incident told the jury how Jelley and the co-attacker punched and kicked the victim up to 10 times, then proceeded to stamp on his head while he lay bleeding on the ground.
Another witness said that prior to the man falling to the ground, he was punched so hard in the face that when his head banged off one of Office’s windows, he thought the force was going to shatter the glass.
As a result of the attack, the injured man underwent a four-hour operation during which six metal plates were inserted into his cheeks and face.
He also had teeth broken in the incident, as well as having his jaw wired.
During sentencing, Crown barrister Rosemary Walsh said the victim remains “at a complete loss as to why he was attacked so viciously”.
Ms Walsh also revealed that Jelley appeared before the court with over 150 previous criminal convictions.
Following the attack Jelley and his co-attacker boarded a bus. A passenger recalled seeing Jelley wiping blood from his hands, and from his trainers.
When he was arrested, Jelley denied involvement – and over two years later, he continues this denial.
Defence barrister Denis Boyd, who represented Jelley during the trial, said his client suffered from depression and stress. He also spoke of an unsettled childhood, a poor education and dependency issues, but revealed that since his time on remand, Jelley has passed a number of drugs tests.
Branding the incident as an “unprovoked attack on someone because of drink”, Judge Kerr spoke of the use of both fists and feet on the victim.