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Extinguisher attack racist thug appeals jail sentence

By Alan Erwin

Published 26/08/2015

A Belfast man convicted of carrying out a racist attack by setting off a fire extinguisher in an asthma sufferer's face has been jailed for seven months
A Belfast man convicted of carrying out a racist attack by setting off a fire extinguisher in an asthma sufferer's face has been jailed for seven months

A Belfast man convicted of carrying out a racist attack by setting off a fire extinguisher in an asthma sufferer's face has been jailed for seven months.

David Owens (30) was told his actions at a garage forecourt in the city were aggravated by hostility towards a man because of his colour.

District Judge Amanda Henderson said: "It was an attack designed to humiliate the injured party."

But with the 30-year-old defendant continuing to deny involvement, he was granted bail pending a planned appeal against his conviction.

Owens, of Shankill Parade in Belfast, was found guilty of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and two counts of criminal damage.

The victim, whose nationality was not disclosed, suffered an asthma attack after being sprayed twice during the incident in May last year.

Belfast Magistrates Court heard he had been getting petrol at Tesco's Knocknagoney branch when the fire extinguisher was set off.

No CCTV footage could be obtained because so much dust was discharged around the forecourt.

However, Owens was linked through the presence of his car and a bank card used at the garage.

After being convicted at a previous contested hearing he returned to court yesterday for sentencing.

Defence counsel Richard McConkey confirmed his client still maintained his innocence.

Mrs Henderson insisted, nevertheless, that the offences were serious enough to warrant immediate imprisonment.

"The injured party was targeted because of his colour," she said.

"He was then... sprayed in front of the defendant and some of his colleagues who seemed to find the whole thing terribly funny."

Turning to Owens, the judge told him: "You set a fire extinguisher off in his face twice in the presence of friends who were laughing.

"The injured party (suffered) an extremely serious asthma attack. Thankfully, he came out of it without any long-term injury."

Owens was ordered to serve seven months in jail for the assault, with concurrent three-month terms imposed for the two criminal damage offences.

He was later released on £500 bail until his appeal hearing takes place sometime later this year.

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