Belfast Telegraph

Solvents thug jailed for attack on youth in Belfast city centre

By Alan Erwin

A man who attacked a youth in while high on solvents has been jailed for a total of six months.

Alan Ponisi (28) punched the victim (16) on the mouth, chipping his teeth, and spat in his face in Belfast city centre.

He was handed a four-month jail term after admitting a charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

District Judge Amanda Henderson also imposed a further two months from a previously suspended sentence for a separate disorderly behaviour incident.

Ponisi, of Springfield Road in the city, was arrested within an hour of the attack last October.

Belfast Magistrates Court heard that a group of five people went up to the victim as he sat on a bench at Custom House Square. One of them pushed and spat on him before inflicting a number of blows to the face, a prosecution lawyer said.

Defence solicitor John Finucane told the court Ponisi has been battling to turn his life around. "On that day he had been under the influence of solvents, that's something he has struggled with," he said.

As the defendant stood in the dock with his arm in a cast, Mr Finucane also revealed that he had been the victim of an "horrific" assault himself.

"He described to me that he was stabbed, but it's like someone butchered large lumps out of his arm. He has seen directly what being the victim of violent crime feels like," the lawyer said.

Despite Ponisi's guilty plea Judge Henderson insisted he had to be jailed for what she called a serious and unprovoked attack. After ordering Ponisi to serve a total of six months, she granted bail pending an appeal.

Belfast Telegraph

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