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Lisburn man avoids jail after punching traffic warden

A Lisburn man who attacked a traffic warden after he was given a parking ticket narrowly avoided going jail on Monday.
A Lisburn man who attacked a traffic warden after he was given a parking ticket narrowly avoided going jail on Monday.
Michael O’Doherty (in the blue shirt) leaving Lisburn court after he was handed a suspended prison sentence for assaulting a traffic warden.

By Paul Higgins

A Lisburn man who attacked a traffic warden after he was given a parking ticket narrowly avoided going jail on Monday.

Imposing a three month jail sentence on 33-year-old Michael O’Doherty at the city’s Magistrates Court, District Judge John Meehan told the father-of-two that “drivers must know that if they lay a finger on a traffic warden then they go to jail.”

The judge continued however “I have to ask if there’s a reasonable prospect of you behaving yourself....I hope there is so therefore I will suspend the sentence for two years.”

At an earlier hearing O’Doherty, from Breton View in the city, pleaded guilty to a single count of common assault.

A prosecuting lawyer told the court on Monday that on May 8 this year, the male traffic warden had just put a ticket on O’Doherty’s car as it was parked across two spaces on Governor’s Road.

O’Doherty remonstrated with the warden to rescind the ticket but when told that was not possible, he “became aggressive and struck him to the right side of the face,” felling the warden.

On the ground, the victim was punched again, leaving him with a small cut to his lip.

Arrested and interviewed, O’Doherty “made full admissions” to assaulting the traffic warden.

His defence solicitor stressed that while it was no excuse, former fitness instructor and doorman O’Doherty had been having “one of the worst days he had ever experienced,” adding that when he got the parking ticket, “it was the straw that broke the camels back.”

Adding that O’Doherty is “terrified at the prospect” of going to jail, the lawyer told the court the defendant is remorseful “and very apologetic to the victim.”

As well as the suspended jail sentence, Judge Meehan ordered O’Doherty to pay £400 compensation to his victim.

“To attack a public servant, who doesn’t know who is dangerous as he puts a ticket on a windscreen and isn’t expected to face any such danger, to attack one in this cowardly way from behind is something that will warrant only a prison sentence,” said the judge.

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