Belfast Telegraph

Jail warning to steel worker who attacked supervisor

By Ashleigh McDonald

A father-of-four from Ballyclare has been warned he could face a jail term after being found guilty of a workplace assault.

A jury at Belfast Crown Court took less than an hour to reach a verdict on a violent incident at a steel manufacturing firm at Mallusk which left a 54-year-old supervisor with four separate fractures.

Following a two-day trial, the jury of seven women and five men acquitted 30-year-old Ryan Thomas Charnley of causing grievous bodily harm to the supervisor with intent to cause him grievous bodily harm. But they returned a unanimous guilty verdict on the lesser charge of causing grievous bodily harm.

During the trial, the jury heard evidence from both the supervisor and Charnley regarding the incident, which occurred in the control box on the factory floor on the afternoon of July 27 last year.

At the time Charnley, from Thornhill Drive in Ballyclare, was employed as a labourer.

The day before the incident, the supervisor had raised concerns with a colleague about productivity on the machine Charnley had been working on.

In his evidence, the supervisor said Charnley entered the control room and challenged him about what he had said to a colleague. The supervisor said Charnley then launched an unprovoked attack during which he was punched to the ground, then kicked and stamped on.

This version of events was rejected by Charnley, who claimed he struck out at the supervisor in self-defence after the supervisor pushed him in the chest with such force and with such aggression that he dropped his lunchbag.

Charnley told the jury that he only punched the supervisor once, and that any injuries must have been sustained when the supervisor fell to the concrete floor.

An ambulance was called to the factory and the supervisor was taken to Antrim Area Hospital, where he was treated for four fractures, two of which required surgery. He sustained fractures to an eye socket, lower jaw, cheekbone and left arm.

After the jury returned the verdict, Judge Geoffrey Miller QC asked that a pre-sentence report and a victim impact statement be compiled ahead of next month's sentencing.

Telling Charnley that he had been found guilty of a "very serious" assault, Judge Miller told him: "A custodial sentence is at the forefront of the court's mind."

Charnley was released on bail, and will be sentenced for the assault on October 6.

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