Newtownabbey man avoids jail for breaking finger of OAP in row over work at house
A workman who broke a pensioner's finger in an argument over work narrowly avoided going to jail yesterday after he paid £300 compensation to his victim.
Handing 43-year-old Daniel Dundon a "richly deserved" nine-month sentence at Newtownards Magistrates Court, District Judge Mark Hamill added it was "with a great deal of hesitation I will suspend that for three years".
Describing the background to the actual bodily harm as "basically extorting money from a vulnerable pensioner," the judge said the offence "should be in the Crown Court" as it was "an extraordinarily serious matter".
Dundon, from Longlands Avenue in Newtownabbey, had pleaded guilty to causing actual bodily harm to his victim on January 5 last year.
A prosecuting lawyer told the court that after Dundon had completed work to the pensioner's drive and gateway, there was a dispute over a seven-year guarantee for the completed work.
The court heard that Dundon, who "charged thousands for that work", snatched the paperwork off the man but when he tried to get the document back, Dundon grabbed his hand to stop him.
The pensioner, said the lawyer, "felt pain in his hand" and an X-ray later revealed a hairline fracture to his little finger.
The court heard that while Dundon had at one stage also faced charges from trading standards, those offences were withdrawn.
Defence counsel Stuart Magee said as a result of medical difficulties Dundon had been forced to give up work, adding that while on benefits "he had scraped together £300 cash for the victim".
Submitting that the injury and incident were "at the lower end of the scale", the lawyer argued the injury had been inflicted by a reckless rather than a deliberate act.
Describing the offence as "extremely, extremely serious", Judge Hamill told Dundon that "the only reason I'm not going to give you immediate custody is that the money has been paid".
"Extorting money from vulnerable people is not going to be tolerated," added the judge.