A former under-18 Derry county GAA footballer, who received a bravery award for the manner in which he dealt with serious fire burns he sustained to his body when he was a child, has been jailed for 18 months after he admitted viciously assaulting a man.
Ciaran McFeeley (23) from Foreglen Road in Claudy, Co Londonderry, was due to have undergone reconstructive injury in a Dublin clinic for his burns in six months time. He has undergone a marathon series of operations on his wounds over the years since he was injured.
Together with his cousin, Niall McFeeley (22) from Sheacan View in Claudy, he received the 18-month jail sentence at Londonderry Crown Court for beating a man unconscious during an unprovoked attack in Dungiven on June 13 of last year.
Their trial heard the cousins jumped out of a white transit van and assaulted the man as he walked up Dungiven Main Street.
They pulled the man to the ground and he landed on his side and he curled up in a ball covering his face as he was beaten.
Their victim sustained wounds to the forehead, to the back of his head and to his teeth. A victim impact report said the victim still suffered from mild anxiety and remained concerned for his personal safety.
Judge Piers Grant told the McFeeley cousins that if there had been any evidence that they had been responsible for sending a bullet wrapped in a note to the Samaritans warning their victim to get out of the country, their sentence would have been much more severe.
Ciaran McFeeley's partner Patricia Farren (24) also from Foreglen Road in Claudy, who admitted making a false alibi for her fiance, was told by Judge Grant that the only reason she was not going to jail was because she was due to have a baby on January 14.
Farren claimed she had driven him to a hotel in Maghera and they had been there until the early hours of the morning.
“The only thing that saves you from the immediate custodial |sentence you deserve is the |imminent birth of your child,” said Judge Grant.
Two other men who also pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice by making false alibis for the cousins were also sentenced to nine months in custody.
Evin King (22) from Drumceatt Park and Thomas McGuigan (22) from Irwin Avenue both in Limavady, claimed that Niall McFeely had been with them watching a sports programme in Limavady at the time.
Relatives of the five defendants wept after the sentences were imposed and several of them shouted abuse at Judge Grant and at the defence barristers.