Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Drunk rugby player attacked frail pensioners during Galgorm rampage

Jonathon Milliken
Jonathon Milliken
Jonathon Milliken
Jonathon Milliken

This is the rugby-playing thug who launched a vicious attack on two elderly tourists after breaking into their holiday cottage at a top County Antrim resort.

Jonathon Milliken terrified the two Australian pensioners during the unprovoked attack at Ballymena’s plush Galgorm Resort.

The Larne man, who played for Queen’s University rugby team, left the men bloodied and bruised after a 12-hour drinking binge which left him “paralytic”.

The 22-year-old, who comes from an “exemplary” family background, escaped jail on Thursday after a judge deferred sentencing him for a year.

The attack, described as an “absolute disgrace” by judge Desmond Perry, happened in the early hours of September 8 last year.

A prosecutor told the court how Gerry Mullaney and Michael O'Leary travelled from Dublin airport to Ballymena after jetting in for a family wedding that week.

They checked into the Galgorm Resort, where they were staying in a cottage, and after suffering from jetlag, had retired early to bed.

At about 5am in the morning, 73-year-old Mr O'Leary was awoken from his sleep by a noise in the living room. When he got up to investigate, Milliken, who was not known to either men, was standing in their living room.

The 22-year-old, who also plays rugby for Larne RFC, launched himself at the pensioner, before punching him in the face. As he screamed for help, Milliken threw himself on top of him and he fell to the ground.

As the thug attacked the 73-year-old, ripping his pyjama top, Mr Mullaney awoke and ran out to the living room. A struggle ensued, and the 75-year-old fell, hitting his head off a settee.

Fortunately, both men were able to escape after fleeing the cottage. They raised the alarm with staff in the main hotel area who phoned police.

When officers arrived at the cottage, they found Milliken asleep in one of the gentlemen’s beds. When the allegations were put to him at the scene, he told one of the officers: “That is bullsh*t.”

He was arrested, and the elderly men, who both had cuts and bruises to their bodies, were taken to hospital via ambulance.

Police were unable to formally interview the violent thug due to his drunken state, but he later denied the offences. When the allegations came to court, the |defendant pleaded not guilty to all charges, which included criminal damage, common assault, and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Ballymena Magistrates Court heard that the PPS was then forced to pay £2,000 to fly Mr Mullaney and Mr O'Leary back to Northern Ireland to give evidence in court. But on the day of the contest, 22-year-old Milliken, from Craiganboy Park, Larne, changed his plea to guilty.

A victim impact statement read from the PPS said that one of the men was still suffering “psychological” trauma from the incident, and another was still suffering from neck pain. The defence disputed a statement from one of the injured party that he had suffered four broken ribs in the attack.

Defending barrister Eoghan Devlin said his client wished to apologise to the court, and the “totally blameless” victims, for his behaviour.

He said the footballer had been drinking at a function inside the main hotel from 6pm the previous evening to 5am, when a “paralytic” Milliken broke into the cottage and attacked the men.

He said: “His background is exemplary, his work ethic is exemplary and until this incident, his character was exemplary,” Mr Devlin told the court.

Judge Perry said: “When I heard the facts of this case and what you did to these elderly gentlemen, I was appalled. What you did was a disgrace.”

However, he said that due to Milliken’s outstanding background and “glowing” probation report, he was going to defer sentencing for a year.

“You’ve disgraced yourself, you’ve disgraced your family and you have very narrowly today |escaped a prison sentence,” Mr Perry said. “I want to see you back here on July 2 next year.”

Mr Perry also approved a PPS application, ordering Milliken, to pay the public prosecutor back £2,000 in relation to Mr O’Leary and Mr Mullaney’s travel |expenses.