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Derry man McLaughlin with 77 previous convictions jailed for drunken race attack

By George Jackson

A thug with 77 previous convictions who beat up a Romanian man has been jailed for 22 months.

Ryan McLaughlin, from O'Connor Court in the Ballymagroarty area of Londonderry, admitted attacking his victim and attempting to hijack his car.

The incident took place in the Victoria car park at Strand Road on May 30, 2015.

A prosecutor said a mobile police patrol in the area saw the distressed victim with his face covered in blood.

When approached, he told the officers that he had been attacked.

He explained he had been sitting in his car when McLaughlin, who had earlier been ejected from a bar for being drunk and abusive, knocked on the driver's side window.

When the victim opened the car door, McLaughlin asked for a cigarette. When the injured party gave him one, the defendant punched him in the head a number of times, pulled him from the vehicle and then punched him to the ground.

McLaughlin then grabbed the victim's car keys and got into the driver's seat.

The defendant was arrested by the police as he sat in the car. When the officers removed him from the vehicle, he shouted racist abuse at the Romanian man.

After he was taken to the police station, he initially denied assaulting his victim and stealing his car keys.

McLaughlin claimed that he was going to the toilets in the car park when he saw the man laying on the ground beside his vehicle.

A barrister said that six months later, after McLaughlin had been released from prison for other offences, he burgled a house at Old Mill Court and stole the house owner's car keys.

The car was found burnt out at Lecky Road, and the police traced the vehicle registration number to the owner's home. When they arrived at the house, the owner and members of his family were asleep in bed, unaware that their home had been broken into and the family car stolen and burnt out.

McLaughlin's fingerprint was subsequently found on an unlocked downstairs window.

The defendant admitted entering the house through the window and stealing the car keys in an opportunistic crime, but denied stealing the car.

A victim impact report said the house owner's 15-year-old son had been so traumatised by the incident that he had since become obsessive with checking the door and window locks in his home to make the property is secure before he goes to bed.

Jailing McLaughlin, Judge Loughran said: "You cannot excuse your behaviour in both of these incidents because of alcohol abuse.

"You are as responsible for your actions when you are drunk as when you are sober."

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