Belfast Telegraph

Addict who beat victim with iron bar jailed

BY PAUL HIGGINS

A criminal and heroin addict who repeatedly battered a man about the head with an iron bar has been ordered to spend at least eight-and-a-half years in prison.

James Greer (30) appeared at Antrim Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, yesterday where he was handed down an indeterminate sentence by Judge Alastair Devlin for an attack which left his victim needing round-the-clock care.

The judge told him he was assessing him as a dangerous criminal given the "brutal, sustained and merciless" assault he launched on victim Anthony McCrystal, and his criminal record.

He warned Greer that even when he has served a minimum of eight-and-a-half years in jail, it will be up to the parole commissioners whether he is safe to be released and under what conditions.

At the end of his trial last April, Greer, from Rathkyle in Antrim, was convicted of trying to murder 50-year-old Mr McCrystal on June 6, 2011.

The jury who convicted him heard how Mr McCrystal was seen in "an agitated state" walking through the Doury Road housing estate in Ballymena.

An elderly woman resident gave him a cup of tea and tried to calm him down but Mr McCrystal walked and confronted Greer with a metre-long metal bar.

Greer was struck once with the bar before he took it from Mr McCrystal and launched what the judge described as "unquestionably a brutal, shocking, despicable" attack.

He landed multiple blows on his unconscious victim's head, face and body while holding the bar in both hands and swinging it downwards with "full force".

Due to the severity of his injuries, Mr McCrystal was unable to give evidence at his assailant's trial

The attack was only stopped when a member of the public intervened and pushed Greer away and he ran from the scene.

The following day police arrested him.

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