Belfast Telegraph

OAP tells of punch trauma as assault thug gets jail term

By Alllan Preston

A pensioner who was knocked unconscious by a teenager after his cat was killed by the youth's dogs has told how the incident still haunts him.

Samuel Woodside (75) was punched in the face by Gary McKee, who was 19 at the time, near the thug's home in Greenisland last August. Neighbours later found Mr Woodside slumped at the wheel of his car.

Police had been called to the area that morning over a dispute about dogs running loose. A short time later Mr Woodside tried to take a picture of fencing around McKee's home as he believed it was too low to keep the dogs, which he said had killed his cat, inside.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Woodside said: "I went to take a photo of the fence and the next thing this boy arrived on the scene and said: 'What are you doing?' I said I was taking a photograph for evidence as the dogs could have got over the fence.

"The next thing I know I got a thump on this jaw. I didn't know where I was. On the way to hospital I must have been bleeding."

Mr Woodside's wife Sussana added: "It caused a lot of worry and trouble. It was horrendous. (Samuel was) black from his lip right up to his eyebrows. His face was as black as your boot."

Mr Woodside spent two days in Antrim Area Hospital and had bruising on his face for three weeks, but it was the loss of his cat Paws that hurt him most.

"It still causes me stress. Every time I walk past where the wee cat is buried, it gets to me. In the good weather the cat would come to the garden and sit beside you."

"Most of the cats were too fast for the dogs, but this wee one only had three legs because it had been hit by the train."

McKee was yesterday sentenced to six months in jail for assault occasioning actual bodily harm after a hearing at Belfast Magistrates Court. He was released on police bail pending an appeal. Answering the door to his house, McKee said he did not wish to comment on the incident.

But when asked if he was sorry for what he had done and if he thought his punishment was fair he replied: "I thought the punishment was dead on."

In court a defence solicitor described his client's behaviour as "shameful" and said: "He's made a sincere apology."

District Judge Peter King insisted that it could never be appropriate for a 19-year-old man to punch a 75-year-old unconscious.

Imposing the six-month prison term, the judge added: "In order for this court to maintain the confidence of this community, there is no alternative but a period of custody."

Mr Woodside said that at this stage he did not accept the apology. "His solicitor contacted me with an apology in writing," he added. "I said I did not want to know about it. At his age, hitting a man of nearly 76... the police saw the dogs. My best thing would be to say I'm glad it's all over, but it doesn't bring back the wee cat."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph