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Homeless man jailed for threats to Belfast Oxfam shop worker

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 (stock photo)

(stock photo)

(stock photo)

A 68-year-old homeless man whose threats forced a charity shop worker to lock up for her safety has been jailed for four months.

Sending David Mawhinney to prison, a judge at Belfast Magistrates' Court suggested it could be an act of "kindness".

Mawhinney, of no fixed abode, was arrested on Botanic Avenue in the south of the city shortly before noon on Thursday.

A member of staff in a nearby Oxfam shop had made a 999 call for help.

"The injured party identified him to police across the street and alleged he had been up in her face, threatening to assault her.

"She said she was afraid and locked up the shop for her safety, but he continued to bang the door."

Mawhinney pleaded guilty to threats to kill and disorderly behaviour.

Defence solicitor Una Conway accepted it was an "unpleasant" incident, but said her client had no recollection because of alcohol.

She set out Mawhinney's long-term history of sleeping rough since becoming estranged from his family.

"Essentially he's been homeless for 15 years now, living under a stairwell in south Belfast," the lawyer said.

"He regrets the incident, he's totally disgusted by what happened."

Despite acknowledging Mawhinney's difficult personal situation, District Judge Fiona Bagnall pointed to a previous suspended sentence he received earlier this year.

"The difficulty is he's going to fall in and out of custody, if there's nowhere else to go maybe it's a kindness in these circumstances," she said.

"I'm going to impose four months, that at least gives him a level of stability."

Belfast Telegraph