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Man who smashed Belfast restaurant fronts 'lost sight of himself' following bereavement, court told

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Owen O'Neill, of Rathdrum Street, pleaded guilty to four counts of criminal damage (stock photo)

Owen O'Neill, of Rathdrum Street, pleaded guilty to four counts of criminal damage (stock photo)

Owen O'Neill, of Rathdrum Street, pleaded guilty to four counts of criminal damage (stock photo)

A man who smashed a car windscreen and restaurant fronts in south Belfast "lost sight of himself" following a family bereavement, a court was told on Tuesday.

Owen O'Neill, 39, was seen throwing a chair at eateries along the Lisburn Road during the outburst on July 8 last year.

A judge handed him a four-month suspended jail term after acknowledging it had been a one-off incident.

O'Neill, of nearby Rathdrum Street, pleaded guilty to four counts of criminal damage.

He targeted a car, a window at Deane and Decano Bistro, an emergency exit sign on Cafe Mauds, and a window at Miel et Moi restaurant.

Belfast Magistrates' Court was told a manager at another outlet on the Lisburn Road reported seeing a man swinging a chair against one of the windows.

When police arrived O'Neill walked out onto the road in front of their vehicle and identified himself.

A prosecution lawyer said: "He was asked how many windows (he had thrown something against) and he said it may have been two or three."

Defence solicitor Feargal MacElhatton told the court O'Neill had resorted to alcohol after his mother died.

"He lost sight of himself on this occasion, accepted causing the damage for which he had no explanation but expressed his remorse," Mr MacElhatton added.

Sentencing O'Neill to four months imprisonment, suspended for a year, District Judge Fiona Bagnall noted his previous clear record.

She said: "I accept an event has triggered the behaviour which has occurred."

Belfast Telegraph