Fermanagh student ‘spat in mother’s face’

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A university student allegedly spat in his mother’s face as part of a campaign of violent verbal abuse, the High Court has heard.

Anthony Ferguson also threatened to urinate on her father’s grave amid demands for money to attend a friend’s birthday celebrations, prosecutors claimed.

The 21-year-old Co Fermanagh man, said to have drink and drugs problems, faces charges of common assault and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

As he applied for bail a judge was told his computer science degree course at Liverpool John Moores University has been put on hold due to his mental health and substance misuse.

Prosecution counsel Michael Chambers said Ferguson returned to the family home in Belcoo around Easter and began subjecting his mother to abuse and violence.

In one alleged incident she came back from work on May 12 to be confronted by Ferguson demanding cash to go to the 21st birthday party in Liverpool.

Mr Chambers claimed the defendant became angry when his mother told him she didn’t have the money, kicking over a kitchen table and chairs.

“He was saying he was going to urinate on her father’s grave and said he needed £150 to pay off a drug debt,” the barrister alleged.

The court heard his mother was so afraid that she left, returning later with food for the family.

“The applicant, when he saw the food, threw a chip at her,” Mr Chambers said.

“The next day he was again aggressive and abusive to his mother ... and spat in her face.”

Ferguson, with an address at Brownlow Road in Liverpool, is further charged with criminal damage to a vacuum cleaner and radio.

On one occasion, the court heard, his mother came home to find him in the kitchen drinking Buckfast wine and beer bottles strewn about.

She was said to have gone out to try to get some money to give him, but his alleged aggression over not getting over to Liverpool continued.

Mr Chambers claimed Ferguson went about damaging household items.

Police called to the home found him drunk and the house trashed, the court heard.

The judge was also told the defendant’s mother has since made a statement withdrawing her complaints.

Defence counsel Sean Mullan confirmed his client has missed his second year exams and is facing a year out of university because of the criminal proceedings.

“It’s a very tragic case,” the barrister acknowledged.

“He accepts there’s an issue with alcohol and cocaine that started when he went to university in Liverpool and it seems to have taken a grip on him.”

It was suggested that Ferguson could be granted bail to stay with an uncle in Co Donegal.

Adjourning the case for police to check out that proposal, Mr Justice Maguire also said he wanted to know what help could be provided by a psychologist or psychiatrist.

The judge said: “This man clearly needs some significant assistance.

“This is just completely unacceptable, his conduct. It looks like a promising career is being dissipated by what must be some serious flaws that needs immediate attention.”