A 12-year-old boy from Castlederg was brought to hospital in an ambulance because he was so intoxicated after drinking a litre of cider bought for him by a 20-year-old man.
Ross Irwin of Kistrule Road, Newtownstewart, was sentenced to two months in jail, suspended for two years, at Strabane court when he admitted buying alcohol for a minor under the age of 18.
Describing the offence as a parent’s “absolute horror,” District Judge Liam McNally warned that any adult who buys alcohol for a child can expect to be sent to prison.
On November 21 last year police received a report that the child was taken to hospital as he was “heavily intoxicated” and vomiting.
The boy’s mother told police officers her son went out the day before and she was later told a man had bought him alcohol. She found her son lying on the Killeter Road later that afternoon.
The next day the boy told her that he gave £3 to a 15-year-old girl to contribute towards Irwin buying two litres of cider for them. The boy drank a litre of the cider.
When he was questioned by police, the defendant said he bought the cider for the teenage girl who he knew and claimed he thought she was 16 years old.
Defence solicitor Canice McManus told the court his client knew the girl from around the town and he claimed did not realise the young boy was going to end up consuming the alcohol. Mr McManus added that the defendant realised the offence was serious.
Imposing the suspended sentence, Judge Liam McNally told Irwin he must have realised the 12-year-old boy was going to drink the cider.
He said: “Any parent who listens to or reads the facts of this case would be filled with absolute horror even if it was for a 15-year-old girl. It must have been imminently foreseeable the alcohol would be used by the 12 and 15-year-olds. It caused serious consequences. It is a serious offence and can be only met with a custodial sentence.”
Taking into account Irwin’s clear record, guilty plea and his co-operation with the police, the judge decided to suspend the jail term.
He warned: “The message must be clear to you and anybody else — they run the risk of custody if they buy alcohol for children.”