Three sent to prison for ‘vicious’ assault

Police forensic officer prepare to search the scene of a serious assult at Lake Road, Craigavon. INLM5211-108gc
Police forensic officer prepare to search the scene of a serious assult at Lake Road, Craigavon. INLM5211-108gc

A man was stabbed with a broken bottle and kicked unconscious in a brutal attack by three men, Craigavon Crown Court heard last Friday.

Judge Gemma Loughran described it as a ‘shocking incident of gratuitous violence’ perpetrated under the influence of drink.

The defendants were Joseph Thomas Carragher (29), Parkmore, Craigavon, Stephen Carragher (21), Parkmore, and Dean Sergeant (22), Upper Ramone Park, Portadown.

Joseph Carragher, who had previous convictions which included assaults, was jailed for eight years, four to be spent in custody and four on license.

Stephen Carragher and Sergeant were both sentenced to seven years and six months, three years and nine months in custody and the remainder of the sentence on license.

Stephen Carragher had no previous convictions while Sergeant had a limited record with common assault and disorderly behaviour offences.

Joseph Carragher had a more extensive record which included common assaults and assaults occasioning actual bodily harm.

Since there were no eye witnesses and the victim could not remember the judge said she would view the incident as a joint enterprise.

“You were responsible for all the injuries,” she told the defendants.

“I accept you are remorseful and wish you could turn the clock back but the person who most wishes he could turn the clock back is your victim.”

A public prosecutor said all three had pleaded not guilty on arraignment in April but then changed their pleas to guilty of causing grievous bodily harm with intent on December 22, 2011.

She said that shortly before 3am a woman who was driving home on Lake Road saw the victim lying on the grass bank close to the footbridge. He was lying face up, unconscious but breathing and his clothes were heavily blooded as was his face.

He was taken to hospital suffering from a number of serious injuries.

On the footbridge police found two pools of blood, a quantity of broken glass from an Archer’s bottle and blood staining on two levels of the railings on the bridge.

The blood belonged to the injured party and there was blood on the bottle wrapper and broken glass.

Police got CCTV coverage from Tesco in Craigavon which showed the defendants going into the store at 3.40am.

All three were arrested and their homes searched. DNA evidence linked then to the wrapper on the bottle and more DNA evidence was found on their clothes and shoes.

The public prosecutor said the victim suffered a deep laceration to his left cheek and further lacerations to his forehead and the top of his head.

His right eye and nose were extensively bruised and swollen and there was blood in his nose, mouth and ear.

There were four stab wounds to his chest and to his left upper thigh.

Over the following weeks at Craigavon Area Hospital and then the Royal Victoria Hospital he had emergency abdominal surgery and at the Royal it was confirmed he had a head injury.

He spent time in intensive care and had further surgery to remove a blood clot from his brain.

But, she added, he was jointly assaulted and during the course of the assault he was stabbed a number of times, most likely with the bottle, kicked while on the ground and blunt force was applied to cause several injuries.

The Judge said the victim suffered ‘very serious injuries’ which continue to affect him to the present day and are likely to be life-long.

Due to spinal injuries he cannot walk any distance and now walks with a limp. He has long term brain injuries which cause him to lose concentration and he cannot watch a film the whole way through. He has no memories of where he lived for the six months before the attack. He had worked for 15 years but is not unable to work. He was still receiving treatment at Musgrave Park.

There was scarring under his hairline and on his throatand back.