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Convicted killer Rodney Bishop who battered victim and broke his leg during pub row avoids prison sentence


A convicted killer who repeatedly punched a man, felling him to the ground and fracturing his leg, has been handed a two-year suspended prison sentence.

Rodney Alan Bishop (39), of Swanston Avenue in Glengormley, pleaded guilty to a single charge of causing grievous bodily harm to Russell McCaughran.

Belfast Crown Court heard that on March 14, 2015 Mr McCaughran went to the Cottonmount Arms in Newtownabbey with his niece.

They were in the smoking area "when some type of exchange took place between the injured party and the defendant".

Prosecuting barrister Peter Magill said it was clear the injured party's demeanour was "deliberately aggressive" and the defendant was seen on CCTV leaning against a wall, smoking and with a drink in his hand.

"We don't know what was said and both parties then move inside the bar," he said.

CCTV footage showed Mr McCaughran was about to leave when Bishop approached him, embraced him and shook his hand.

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"Everything at this point appeared friendly," said Mr Magill.

"Then this defendant punches him several times to the head. The injured party falls to the ground, gets up and he is attacked again and falls to the ground.

"He gets up again but this time he has a serious injury to his leg, which later needed internal fixing by the use of plates. It was a serious injury as the bone protruded through the skin." Mr McCaughran told police he had little recollection and believed his leg had been jumped on. But Mr Magill said it was clear this was not the case.

Judge Geoffrey Miller QC was told that since the attack Mr McCaughran now needed a mobility scooter to get about.

Mr Magill told the court that Bishop had a previous conviction for manslaughter in 1999.

No details of the offence were given in court, but during a Court of Appeal hearing in 2008 senior judges said victim Leslie Davidson was walking the hard shoulder near Stiles Way in Antrim when was attacked and killed in September 1999.

After recognising Mr Davidson, Bishop, who was a passenger in a packed minibus, told the driver to turn the minibus around and it pulled up just in front of the victim.

Bishop got out and grabbed Mr Davidson and threw him to the ground. He accused him of having burnt his brother's vehicle. Mr Davidson replied: "I didn't do anything." Bishop and three other men then started to hit and punch the deceased while he was on the ground.

One of the other three men pulled out a black-handled knife and stabbed Mr Davidson seven times.

That man was jailed for life for murder and Bishop pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to six years in prison and two on probation.

Yesterday, defence barrister Taylor Campbell told Belfast Crown Court that Bishop maintained that the victim did say something to him which resulted in the assault taking place.

He said that medical reports showed the victim did not receive any serious injuries to his head, and described the injury to his leg as "freakish".

Mr Campbell said Bishop had problems with both alcohol and drugs, and in June was sectioned under the Mental Health Act over suicidal ideations.

Judge Miller described Mr McCaughran's injury as "nasty", and said Bishop had 25 previous convictions, including the manslaughter.

The judge said Bishop was assessed as at medium risk of reoffending but did not pose a danger to the public.

Judge Miller told the defendant that if he "can't control your demons coupled with your mental health issues" and commit any further offences, he would be brought back to court and the two-year sentence would run consecutively to any further sentence imposed.

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