Students sentenced for '˜senseless act of violence'

Two former students who spent the last fortnight in custody for a 'senseless act of violence' in which a fellow student was partially blinded in one eye, were freed yesterday on community-based sentences.

Court
Court

Judge Geoffrey Miller QC told 20-year-old Thomas Lowry and 19-year-old Jonathan Smyth that given their short stay in the Young Offenders’ Centre he was prepared to adopt the recommendations in their pre-sentence reports.

The Belfast Crown Court judge said what happened was clearly a case where the students, out celebrating their GCSE exam results, “had more alcohol than they could handle, ending in a violent melee”.

Their victim, who also suffered a fractured skull, was left with permanent blurring to his right eye and as a result had lost a hoped-for Army career, can no longer play rugby, or go weight training.

An earlier court heard that both admitted inflicting grievous bodily harm on their victim when the exam celebrations turned sour in the car park of a Co Antrim nightclub in the early hours of August 22, 2014.

Smyth, from Ballybarnes Road in Newtownards, admitted punching the other man once in the face while Lowry, from Carnreagh Bend in Newtownabbey, admitted kicking him as he lay on the ground.

Prosecuting barrister Gareth Purvis said the incident occurred at around 12.30am in the car park of the premises on the Doagh Road in Newtownabbey after a melee broke out between two groups of friends, who had consumed a “considerable amount of drink”.

During the incident, the injured party was punched once to the face, which caused him to fall backwards. Once on the ground, the attack continued, with one witness describing seeing him “lying on the ground with a large group of males around him, kicking and punching”.

Defence barrister Sean Mullan for Lowry, issued an apology on his behalf to the injured man, telling the court Lowry was both sorry and ashamed of what he had done during what he described as a “terrible incident”.

Paul Bacon, while also apologising on behalf of Smyth, described what occured as an “utterly disgraceful incident”, which had had a “devastating impact” on the victim.

Lowry who was placed on probation for two years, was also ordered to complete 100 hours community service, while Smyth was given the maximum of 240 hours community service.