Belfast Telegraph

Attacker of disabled man warned to expect custody

A judge has warned the attacker of a profoundly disabled man - targeted as he lay helpless in bed - to
A judge has warned the attacker of a profoundly disabled man - targeted as he lay helpless in bed - to "expect custody"

By Staff Reporter

A judge has warned the attacker of a profoundly disabled man - targeted as he lay helpless in bed - to "expect custody".

Police body camera footage played during a contested case at Dungannon Magistrates Court showed the distressed victim lying in bed, bleeding from a facial cut while his partner had an injury to her forehead.

Kevin McKernan (39) of Lisnahull Gardens, Dungannon denied assaulting the man and stealing his mobile phone during a vicious attack in the early hours of December 29.

The victim is the partner of McKernan's ex-wife, who was also assaulted while attempting to shield him from attack. She said they were woken by rapping at the door around 2am, and the sound of McKernan's voice.

As they had been in contact over their children since splitting, she did not consider McKernan posed a threat, so let him in to use the bathroom.

Instead he hurled sectarian abuse at her partner, calling him a "black loyalist b******", who ruined his marriage.

A physical attack followed on the victim in his bed, helpless to defend himself.

The woman manoeuvred herself between attacker and victim, trying to block further blows.

She told McKernan to leave which he did, then locked the door and rang police.

It then transpired the male victim's phone was missing.

Less than two hours after the attack, the woman received a call from her ex-husband, who read a text saved in the phone.

The male victim gave evidence next, seated in a wheelchair. He described a terrifying scene of McKernan "bursting into the room, roaring and shouting, 'You black b******. You broke up my family. I'll kill you, you black b******.'

"My partner shielded me from him. She did her best… She was hit… I was hit in the face and ribs."

Finally, McKernan took the stand, adamant he neither spoke to nor attacked the male victim.

He accepted being at the house claiming this was at his ex-wife's invitation.

McKernan said: "I knocked the door once. She opened it and told me to keep quiet. He started shouting. I didn't shout back. I went home."

Asked if he snatched the victim's phone McKernan replied, "No. I never went near him."

But the prosecution put it to McKernan: "You flew off the handle, and attacked a wheelchair-bound man, as he lay in bed, unable to defend himself. Your ex-partner tried to protect him, while you tried to get at him."

Having heard the evidence District Judge John Meehan said: "This was a childish, immature defence. I am satisfied beyond any doubt whatsoever of the defendant's guilt.

"There is tempestuous, bitter and at times vindictive conduct displayed. It is simply ludicrous to suggest he was invited for an arranged meeting. Both victims were asleep in bed before this violent altercation occurred."

Addressing McKernan directly, the judge said: "You have shown no remorse in your self-righteous account. You set out to blacken your former wife."

Adjourning for pre-sentence reports and noting previous violence matters on record, Judge Meehan warned: "You can well expect custody."

The case will return later this month.

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