Hurling star Watson and dad plead guilty to assault arising out of local feud
A top hurler and his father, who carried out an assault in their home village, claimed they had been "effectively terrorised" with the final straw coming when their car tyres were slashed, a court has heard.
Liam Watson (35) and his dad Patrick (57), both of Scally Park, Loughgiel, appeared at Coleraine Magistrates Court yesterday.
Liam Watson is a former Antrim county hurler who won a prestigious All-Ireland club title with Loughgiel Shamrocks.
He had initially been charged with using a hurling stick as an offensive weapon with intent to commit grievous bodily harm; one charge of common assault against a man and two counts of criminal damage to a bedroom window and a summer seat.
Patrick Watson initially faced two charges: assault occasioning actual bodily harm on the same man and possession of an offensive weapon, a hurling stick.
Previously the Watsons had entered not guilty pleas. Yesterday a prosecutor said she was offering no evidence in respect of the offensive weapon charges faced by both and no evidence in respect of the charge against Liam Watson of criminal damage to a summer seat.
Instead, their defence barristers entered guilty pleas to the remaining matters: common assault and one charge of criminal damage for Liam Watson. Patrick Watson admitted assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
The prosecutor said that just after 10pm on November 7 last year police received a report that both Watsons had arrived at an address in Loughgiel "with a hurley stick" and were being "loud, aggressive and abusive". She added: "The injured party said he was punched in the face by Liam Watson and hit on the elbow with a hurley stick by Patrick Watson."
The court was told the incident happened in a garden during which time a window was broken by Liam Watson.
Defence lawyer for Liam Watson, Aaron Thompson, said there was "clearly a background that was perhaps not fully brought to light". He said Liam Watson had been out the preceding week and there had been an encounter when a knife was "brandished" at him. There was another incident, the defence continued, when tyres were "slashed" on vehicles belonging to both Watsons and they had gone to challenge those who they "had little doubt" were involved.
"There was bad blood here," added Mr Thompson.
He said the common assault caused by his client involved a bruise on the face.
Patrick Watson's barrister Neil Moore said his client "found himself in a situation that he, his wife and children have been essentially terrorised". There had been incidents and reports to police when the Watsons were "victims", but with no prosecutions.
He added that his client caused a minor injury which required stitches. The court heard there had been no further incidents.
District Judge Liam McNally fined Liam Watson £500 on the assault matter and gave him a two-year conditional discharge for the criminal damage and ordered him to pay £195 compensation for the window.
Patrick Watson received a four-month jail term, suspended for two years.