Trio jailed over Larne mob attack that drove family from home
Two men and a woman from Co Antrim have been jailed after a mob attack on a house in Larne which led to a family being intimidated from their home.
All three appeared in the dock of Belfast Crown Court, where they heard Judge Alistair Devlin describe the incident last March as one which would have "absolutely terrified the occupants".
The victim - whose family including a disabled stepson and who were in their Knockdhu Park home when it was targeted on Sunday March 30, 2014 - was beaten unconscious in his kitchen by a masked and armed gang.
Greenisland men Steven Adam Blackwood (30) from Moyard Gardens and 35-year-old Stephen Mettleton from Rossmore Green initially faced a total of four charges, including attempting to murder the occupant.
They denied the charges and a non-jury trial commenced at the end of September. However, when new charges were added, the pair admitted a charge of intimidating the occupants to leave their home, as well as affray.
The remaining counts, including attempted murder, were left on the books, after it emerged that the Crown could offer no evidence to suggest that Blackwood and Mettleton were centrally involved, or were part of the armed crowd who broke into the property and attacked the occupant.
Both men pleaded guilty to intimidation and affray on the grounds that they were part of the crowd which gathered outside the man's house, and the intent of that crowd was to force the man to leave his home.
Telling the pair that their presence as part of the 70-strong mob was both pre-planned and organised, Blackwood and Mettleton were each handed a 20-month sentence by Judge Devlin, who said the purpose of the crowd was to intimidate the occupant and family "through a display of force to leave the area".
Both men were informed that they will spend 10 months of the sentence in prison, with the remaining 10 months on supervised licence.
Around 12 of the 70-strong gang broke their way into the victim's home after gathering outside the property armed with hammers, baseball bats, machetes, hatchets and sticks.
The injuries the man sustained in the attack included a fractured skull, multiple head lacerations which required staples and stitches, multiple fractured ribs and a ruptured spleen.
Also charged in relation to last March's event was 38-year-old Elizabeth Sharon Milligan, from Grange Park in Ballyclare, who admitted a single charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice.
Milligan gave a false alibi to police in respect of Mettleton, who at the time of the incident was her boyfriend.
She was handed a 12-month sentence serving half the term in prison, with the remaining six months on licence.