Belfast man jailed for iron bar attack on girlfriend's sleeping son
An east Belfast man who battered the sleeping son of his former partner with an iron bar - leaving him with life-changing injuries from which he will never fully recover - has been given an extended custodial sentence of 15 years.
Jailing 31-year-old Ryan Edward Taylor, Judge David McFarland told him there could be no doubt "this was a vicious attack" carried out with a heavy 'drop bar', which he initially described as "not just a simple weapon, but a nasty piece of work".
Judge McFarland also told Taylor that he must have known that as he rained down blow after blow on his sleeping victim "that very serious injuries or death could have flowed from that".
He later added that the fact the victim survived had nothing to do with Taylor, but "more to do with fate and the speed of medical intervention".
The Belfast Crown Court judge also ruled that as Taylor posed a danger to society it w ill be up to the Parole Commissioners to say when he should be freed, after which he will be under an extended supervised licence of three years "as the best way of protecting the public".
Taylor, from Templemore Street, had pleaded guilty to the attempted murder of Matthew Larsen on December 28, 2015, causing him grievous bodily harm, attacking the victim's girlfriend as she attempted to shield him, and threatening to kill her and her friend.
Taylor's former partner, 42-year-old Julie Larsen, who admitted perverting public justice by attempting to clean up after the attack on her son, was freed when her 12-month sentence was suspended for two years.
Judge McFarland told Larsen that her attempts at a clean-up had had no major impact on the police investigation, nor had it involved the lives of innocent people, who may have become drawn into police enquiries.
Prosecution barrister David Russell told the court that Taylor and Larsen went to her Ross House home in the Mount Vernon flats complex in north Belfast in the early hours, only to find the front door locked. When opened by Matthew Larsen's girlfriend, Taylor immediately took the drop bar which had been bolting the door and rushed to a bedroom where his victim lay sleeping.
Using the heavy iron bar like a baseball bat, he then began attacking a sleeping Mr Larsen. The victim's girlfriend was also injured as she attempted to shield him. Mr Russell said a defenceless Mr Larsen never woke once after the first blow caused his ear "to explode", rendering him unconscious.
He was left with multiple fractures to his head and the back of his skull.
In the aftermath of the attack, Larsen attempted to clean the scene by washing the bed sheets. Defence lawyer Denis Boyd, representing a "genuinely remorseful" Ms Larsen, said on the night of the "horrendous" attack she was "effectively out of her mind with drugs" but since then she had turned her life around, was now drug-free and is working to help others tackle their addictions.
Gregg Berry QC for Taylor said the defendant had admitted his involvement in the attack from the outset, and when the question of his actual intent was resolved, he readily pleaded guilty to the attempted murder, which saved court time and was indicative of his remorse.
"Regardless of his plea of guilty, he is aware that he will receive a lengthy custodial sentence", added Mr Berry, who said there was no significant premeditation to the attack.
Mr Berry added that Taylor, shot by paramilitaries aged 17 and beaten by them when he was 20, had struggled with drug and alcohol abuse from his youth, but now has "a genuine desire to move on".