Thugs behind racist attack in city centre avoid prison
Two men who carried out a racist attack in Belfast have been handed nine-month suspended jail terms.
Mark Evans (26) and Mark Cinnamond (27) were ordered to pay £1,000 each to Raymond Kamanga.
Describing their drink-fuelled actions as "disgusting", a judge told the pair Mr Kamanga had as much right to be in here as they did.
Cinnamond, from Queens Drive, and Evans, of Queens Avenue, both in Newtownabbey, admitted assault occasioning actual bodily harm over the attack last Christmas.
Both were due to contest the charge but entered a last-minute guilty plea at Belfast Magistrates Court yesterday.
In an unusual move, they then entered the witness box to express their shame and apologise to Mr Kamanga.
Cinnamond, a computer science student at Ulster University, and Evans, who works for coachbuilder Wrightbus, targeted the victim after they left Thompsons Garage nightclub, telling him to "f*** off" and go back to his own country.
After Mr Kamanga said he lived here too, the defendants chased him, punched him in the face and kicked him while he was on the ground.
"I believe they only started on me because I was black," said Mr Kamanga, who suffered a facial fracture and was left with blurred vision.
Prosecution counsel Stephanie Boyd said after their arrest the defendants tried to portray an "outrageous" version of events involving their victim hitting himself to win compensation.
Cinnamond's barrister, Paul Bacon, said the attack was "disgusting, squalid and unpleasant. It brings shame on Mr Cinnamond but also reflects very badly on our society, which is trying to move away from such prejudice."
He also predicted difficulties for his client's university course, which involves a company placement.
Sean Mullan, for Evans, agreed his client's conduct was "reprehensible".
Both men told the court of their remorse at the racist behaviour but denied any previous such displays.
Cinnamond stressed he had previously had black girlfriends and said: "It was a moment of pure stupidity. I wish I had never said those things. I'm disgusted with myself... all I can do is say sorry."
Evans was equally contrite and asked his victim to accept his apology.
Judge Liam McStay told the pair they had become "loose weapons" after filling themselves with drink.
"Your offence is disgusting, you should be sorry," he said. "Your naked racism led directly to violence. The only reason he was picked out was the colour of his skin, but this is his country just as much as it is yours."
Explaining his reasons for suspending jail for two years, the judge said the defendants would have been facing lengthy custodial terms if they had continued to contest the charge.
After ordering them each to pay £1,000 compensation, Mr McStay told Mr Kamanga he should not have been brought to court. He added: "I'm sorry for the indignity and hope you feel we have dealt with this fairly."