A 55-year old man who injured both his parents with a knife in an early morning argument in east Belfast was handed a six-year sentence on Tuesday.
Alan Lochhead stabbed his elderly father in a domestic incident last March, with his mother sustaining wounds to her arm as she tried to intervene.
Passing sentence, Judge Gordon Kerr QC told Lochhead that he accepted the incident was not pre-meditated, and that the remorse he has since expressed was genuine.
Lochhead, whose address was given as HMP Maghaberry, was told he will serve three years of his sentence behind bars, with the remainder on supervised licence when he is released from jail.
Earlier this year, Lochhead was found not guilty by a jury at Belfast Crown Court of attempting to murder his father, but was convicted of wounding the 74-year old, with intent to do him grievous bodily harm.
He was also charged with wounding his 72-year old mother with intent to do her grievous bodily harm. And while the jury acquitted him on this charge, they returned a ‘guilty’ verdict to the lesser charge of wounding her.
During the trial, the jury heard Lochhead had just returned from living in London for 16 years and was staying with his parents in the family home in Ballyhackmore when the violent incident occurred.
The jury heard two different versions of what happened in the kitchen at around 6.30am on Wednesday March 22 last year.
From the witness box, Desmond Lochhead said he feared for his life after his son tried to strangle him with a with a mobile phone charger lead before stabbing him twice in the head with a large kitchen knife. Mr Lochhead said that during the incident, his son Alan told him “I am going to kill you.”
Sylvia Lochhead - who was woken from her sleep by her husband calling for help - was slashed twice in the arm as she tried to take the knife from her son.
The defendant, who also gave evidence during the trial, said he never intended to hurt anyone and that he armed himself with a knife to protect himself after placing the mobile lead round his father’s shoulders.
Telling the jury he felt his father was going to give him “a hiding” for what he had done, Lochhead claimed he lifted a knife from a chopping block whilst backing away from his father.
Flatly denying that he tried to murder his father and denying he stabbed him in the head, Lochhead instead claimed he hit his father with the knife as the older man was sitting on his chest, in a bid to get him off.
When Lochhead was asked about the wounds his mother sustained, he said: “I never, ever, ever, never did I ever intend to hurt my mother. It was by pure accident. She came down and got in the road, basically.”
The elderly couple were initially treated at the scene, but were both taken to hospital for further medical intervention.
It was suggested during the trial that the defendant lost his temper and attacked his father after Mr Lochhead questioned whether or not his son was the biological father to his two daughters. In the moments before the attack, father and son exchanged words about a mobile telephone Mr Lochhead had lent his son, but which his son couldn’t work.
Handing Lochhead a six-year sentence, Judge Kerr said Mr and Mrs Lochhead had both spoken about their son’s “weird” and “paranoid” behaviour in the house prior to the incident, which he said could be attributed to his issues with drink and drugs.