Pair jailed for ‘distasteful and reprehensible’ towpath racist attack

Scott McKeown appears at Craigavon  Court on Friday

Scott McKeown appears at Craigavon Court on Friday

Two men have been jailed for what a judge described as a “distasteful and reprehensible racist attack’’ on a defenceless man as he walked along the River Lagan towpath.

Thomas David Finn, 22, from Linen Court, Linenhall Street, Armagh, was jailed for 14 months at Craigavon Crown Court as the judge described him as the “main instigator of the attack’’ almost two years ago.

Judge Patrick Lynch QC told Finn, who had previous convictions for assault, that he will spend a further 14 months on supervised licence following his release.

Co-accused Scott Cecil McKeown, 20, of Young Street in Lisburn, Co Antrim, was jailed for nine months with a further 15 months on licence after he is freed.

Both men had pleaded guilty to charges of “behaviour intending or likely to stir up hatred’’, threats to kill their victim and assaulting him. Finn also admitted assaulting a police officer.

Describing him as having a “significant record’’, prosecutor Joseph Murphy said Finn was not long out of prison after serving a jail sentence for assault.

He told the court that McKeown was convicted in September 2014 for common assalt.

A defence barrister for McKeown said: “This is a bad case of racism. An unwarranted and unprovoked attack. But this defendant would have walked on past if his co-accused had not struck out.’’

Barrister Con O’Neill for Finn described the racist attack as “completely reprehensible’’ and said the defendant had recently been examined by a psychologist who found he suffered from ADHD, Asperger Syndrome and post traumatic stress disorder.