Belfast Telegraph

Homeless man jailed for hitting wheelchair user in Lisburn

A homeless man who punched a wheelchair user in the head in a
A homeless man who punched a wheelchair user in the head in a "disgusting" assault was jailed for eight months yesterday

By Paul Higgins

A homeless man who punched a wheelchair user in the head in a "disgusting" assault was jailed for eight months yesterday.

Lisburn Magistrates Court heard police were called to the Simon Community hostel in the city on July 13 after a report of assault on wheelchair-bound resident Michael Stevens.

A prosecuting lawyer told the court that in an incident captured on CCTV, 51-year-old Michael Lenaghan was seen having a confrontation with Mr Stevens before "punching him to the back of the head". Arrested and interviewed Lenaghan, of no fixed abode, was "extremely obstructive" said the lawyer, adding that he replied "no comment" to the officers' questions.

Appearing at court via video-link yesterday however, Lenaghan pleaded guilty to a single count of common assault.

Defence counsel Patrick Taylor told the court Lenaghan had instructed him that Mr Stevens "doesn't have a total loss of mobility" and that just before he was assaulted, there had been a "stand up" confrontation.

He conceded, however, that the victim had sat back down in his wheelchair when he was assaulted. District Judge Rosie Watters highlighted that while "he may not have total loss of mobility, he is in a wheelchair so would be fairly vulnerable".

Mr Taylor conceded that with almost 120 previous criminal convictions, Lenaghan had become institutionalised revealing that he had breached a suspended sentence imposed for disorderly behaviour by breaking a window with a bottle just to get back into prison.

Judge Watters said the assault had been "disgusting". She told Lenaghan: "I think you have to reflect on your behaviour."

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