Inmate head butted prison officer after his TV privileges were removed

Maghaberry Prison
Maghaberry Prison

A Belfast man recently jailed for four and a half years for trying kidnap a student has been handed an extra six months after he admitted to head butting a prison officer.

Gareth McClurg had been due to appear at Lisburn Magistrates Court via videolink but a prison officer said there had been a problem with getting him to the camera room at Maghaberry jail.

Defence solicitor Greg Calvin told the court however he had “unequivocal instructions” to enter a guilty plea that McClurg assaulted a prison officer on 4 March this year.

A prosecuting lawyer told the court how prison privileges had been withdrawn so an officer had gone to McClurg’s cell to remove his TV.

“He explained he was to remove it but the defendant became aggressive, standing between the officer and the tv,” said the lawyer, “he was asked to move aside and he head butted the officer, causing a 1” cut to his head.”

An additional officer restrained McClurg and the TV was removed with McClurg later confessing he “was angry” at losing the privilege.

Mr Calvin accepted there was “inevitability” about the sentence given that McClurg had been handed a “significant custodial sentence” a little over a week ago and is also awaiting sentence for a stabbing incident.

Originally charged with trespass with intent to rape his female victim McClurg, from Tower Street, pleaded guilty to attempted kidnapping on the day his trial was due to start.

During his sentencing hearing at the end of September, the court heard how the university student was returning to her city centre apartment around teatime on August 24, 2015 and was in the secure communal area of the complex when she became aware of a man following her.

McClurg grabbed her from behind, covered her mouth to stop her from screaming and dragged her towards the door of the carpark, repeatedly telling her “ssh” as she tried to scream for help.

After she managed to escape, McClurg was identified from CCTV footage and was branded as “dangerous” by sentencing Judge Geoffrey Millar QC who also ordered him to spend a further three years on licence after his release in order to protect the public.

Later this month McClurg is also due to be sentenced for wounding arising from a city centre stabbing incident on October 29 last year when 19-year-old Andrew McFadden was stabbed in the back as he walked along High Street at around 9.25pm.

On Monday Mr Calvin revealed that McClurg had “significant mental health problems,” suffers from anger management issues and had in the last been made the subject of hospital orders.

Although District Judge Peter King imposed a four month jail term for head butting the prison officer to be served consecutively, following a defence application he granted bail on that charge alone pending an appeal.