Cinema-goer avoids jail after outburst at Belfast multiplex employee

A cinema-goer said to have called a member of staff a 'gook' after being challenged about drinking alcohol has narrowly avoided being sent to jail.

Thursday, 11th February 2016, 6:07 pm
Updated Wednesday, 17th February 2016, 7:41 am

Sentencing Daniel O’Connor to probation and community service, a judge told him he had come within a “hair’s breadth” of imprisonment for his “boorish” behaviour and outburst at a Belfast multiplex.

O’Connor, 34, of Oranmore Street in the city, pleaded guilty to common assault and disorderly behaviour charges.

Belfast Magistrates’ Court heard he had to be restrained by others at the Movie House on Dublin Road during the incident last September.

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O’Connor had been drinking and tried to get back into a screening with a cup filled with cider.

He was denied entry to the auditorium but pushed past an employee and started shouting, according to a prosecution representative.

“He called a member of staff a gook,” the lawyer added.

Defence counsel described O’Connor as being a chronic alcoholic since the age of 12.

“He says he’s not a racist and this isn’t being prosecuted as a race hate crime,” the barrister said.

Recognising both the potential for rehabilitation and lack of any past racial hostility, District Judge Peter King sentenced O’Connor, who is still serving a suspended prison sentence for unrelated offences, to 12 months probation. He also imposed a maximum 100 hours community service to reflect the language used.