Two brothers jailed for beating a man unconscious in a barroom attack received unduly lenient sentences, Northern Ireland’s most senior judge ruled on Friday.
Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan increased Patrick and Paul Somers’ prison terms from 12 months to two-and-a-half years for stamping on and battering their victim with a pool cue.
Their target, Shane Gallagher, required plastic surgery to an ear injury inflicted during the assault at Enniskillen’s Roadhouse Bar in October 2013.
Granting a bid by Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory to have the brothers’ jail sentences lengthened, Sir Declan held that the case involved high culpability and premeditation.
He said: “There is a long line of authority from this court dealing with the problem of wanton violence by young males, often after the consumption of large amounts of alcohol.”
Last August Patrick Somers, 21, previously of Hillview Park, and his 20-year-old brother Paul, from Drumbeg - both in Enniskillen - pleaded guilty to wounding Mr Gallagher with intent to do him grievous bodily harm.
They were each originally handed three and a half year sentences, split between 12 months behind bars and 30 months on licence.
But Mr McGrory went before the Court of Appeal in a bid to have their jail terms increased based on the attack being unprovoked, premeditated and involving weapons.
Both brothers also have previous violent offences, he argued.
The court heard how they returned to the bar based on a false allegation that their mother had been assaulted.
CCTV footage showed Patrick Somers walk straight up to the victim, knock him to the ground and punch him up to six times before stamping on his head.
His brother Paul had armed himself with a pool cue which he used to strike Mr Gallagher approximately seven times.
Despite being pulled away by a member of staff he returned to deliver another blow with the cue which was broken by that stage.
He also lifted bar stools and tried to hit the victim, who had been rendered unconscious at some stage in the attack.
Mr Gallagher sustained a deep laceration to his ear lobe, cuts to his eyelid and head, and heavy bruising.
He stated that he was lucky not to have lost his ear or been killed in the assault.
Sir Declan, who heard the appeal with Mr Justice Deeny and Mr Justice Treacy, stressed that the sentencing range for such attacks was designed both to act as a deterrent and to protect the community.
“We are satisfied, therefore, that the sentence in each case was unduly lenient,” he said.
“For the reasons given we substitute for the sentence of three-and-a-half years a determinate sentence custodial sentence of five years, comprising two-and-a-half years in custody and two-and-a-half years on licence.”