A teenager who killed a man with a punch outside a Belfast bar in an unprovoked attack will walk free from jail in a year.
Queen’s University student Ciaran Laverty pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Aaron Montgomery outside Skye nightclub in the early hours of February 15 last year. Mr Montgomery (23), who was from Moira and who worked in the marketing department of the News Letter, did not see the punch coming as he stood outside with his brother and a friend.
Yesterday 19-year-old Laverty was sentenced to two years imprisonment. Due to 50% remission he will serve 12 months.
It is understood that in the next academic year Laverty will be permitted to return to his studies at Queen’s, which some members of Mr Montgomery’s family attend.
UUP Policing Board member Basil McCrea last night criticised the sentence.
“This is about a young man who did nothing to provoke this unjustified attack. While there may have been extenuating circumstances justice does not seem to have been done,” he said.
Prosecuting lawyer Fiona O'Kane told Belfast Crown Court that on February 14 last year, Mr Montgomery, his brother and their friend went to Skye where they enjoyed a few drinks and watched a game of football.
Telling the court there was a “considerable amount of young people” out on the street when the club closed, Mrs O'Kane said there was “some pushing, shoving and heated exchanges”.
Belfast Crown Court heard that Laverty was head-butted by someone as he was leaving the bar and was mistakenly told by a friend that Mr Montgomery had attacked him.
As door staff tried to calm the situation, Laverty, from Woodland Grange in Belfast, walked up to Mr Montgomery and punched him once to the side of the head, rendering him instantly unconscious. Mr Montgomery was brought to hospital but was pronounced dead at 2.30am.
Witnesses to the fatal assault all agreed the attack was unprovoked.
The court was told that when he was told Mr Montgomery was dead, Laverty apologised to his family and said: “It is going to haunt me for the rest of my life.”
Defence barrister Orlando Pownall QC expressed remorse on Laverty's behalf and described Mr Montgomery as “undoubtedly a wonderful young man who had his future before him” and who would be “sorely missed” by his family.