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Man spared jail over Filthy McNasty's altercation with doorman

A 20-year-old Belfast man was spared jail on Monday after an incident at Filthy McNasty's which left a doorman with a dislocated kneecap.

Belfast Crown Court heard that the doorman, who also works in golf tourism, has been unable to play sports as a result of the altercation which occurred beside the DJ box in the Dublin Road bar.

Whilst the doorman sustained a serious injury, Alex Steenson - who admitted a charge of causing the doorman grievous bodily harm - was handed a two-month prison sentence, which was suspended for two years.

The court heard Steenson, from Ballygomartin Road, became involved in the incident during a Christmas night out at the Belfast premises on December 22, 2015.

One independent witness described Steenson as the "aggressor" in a scuffle with a doorman, which resulted in the doorman falling against a bandstand and the injury being sustained.

Crown prosecutor Philip Henry said on the evening in question, the club's DJ - who was a friend of Steenson's - became involved in an altercation with a male reveller. As the altercation became physical, the doorman approached and said he would deal with the situation.

At this point Steenson, who had been drinking, "involved himself". The doorman said he was pushed by Steenson during the melee, who also grabbed him by the legs in a bid to throw him off balance.

They ended up on the ground and during this grapple, the doorman was pushed into bandstand where he sustained the leg injury. Despite the injury, the doorman said he was able to restrain Steenson to prevent him from assaulting him further.

Mr Henry said Steenson then tried to walk away, but was detained at the scene until police arrived and arrested him.

The doorman later attended A&E and was treated for a dislocated kneecap, and other minor injuries.

During police interview Steenson made the case that whilst he accepted he and the doorman went to the ground during a wrestle, he said he fell on top of the doorman. Denying he was the aggressor, Steenson told police he didn't have any intention of causing the other man serious injury.

Mr Henry said that the account given by an independent witness was "consistent with the injured party and inconsistent with the defendant." This witness saw Steenson run at the doorman, tackle him to the ground and that during the incident the doorman "screamed in pain ... and was hyper-ventilating".

The prosecutor told Judge Smyth that the incident has affected the injured man's family life as well as ability to work, including his position promoting golf tourism. He has also been unable to play football, Gaelic or golf as a result of his knee injury.

Defence barrister Mark Farrell cited the incident as "very very tragic", saying it "demonstrated the fragility of the human body" during what he described as a "bad fall."

Regarding his client, Mr Farrell said Steenson was an "academic high achiever" who was studying for a four-year degree in Applied Mathematics at university in England.

The barrister said Steenson was "extremely apologetic, remorseful and regretful for his behaviour", adding he believed he was jumping to the defence of his DJ friend, and never set out to injure anyone.

Mr Farrell said that instead of this being a case of Steenson attacking the doorman, it was rather a case of "grappling" with another man in a confused situation which was unfolding beside the DJ box.

Issuing an apology from Steenson to the doorman, Mr Farrell said the chances of his client appearing before the court again were "remote."

Passing sentence, Judge Smyth said that while she accepted Steenson's behaviour that evening was "completely out of character", the injury sustained to the doorman was nonetheless "serious".

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