'One punch' attacker Mackie who fractured man's skull in Antrim car park avoids jail
A court has heard of the dangers of 'one punch' assaults after a man sustained a fractured skull and bleeding on the brain when he was struck on the face and then banged his head off the ground in a Co Antrim car park.
Ryan Mackie (18), a motor skills student, of Frosses Road, Ballymoney, pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm.
A prosecutor told Coleraine Magistrates Court that ambulance staff reported to police that a man had been assaulted in the car park at Tesco in Ballymoney on June 30.
The injured party was taken to the Causeway Hospital with a skull fracture and brain bleeding and later said he had no recollection of the incident and "didn't want to make a fuss".
The prosecutor said Mackie had punched the man once, causing the victim to fall back and strike his head on the ground.
The defendant told police he was in the car park when someone called his name and "said something about a hut being burnt".
Mackie told officers he thought the other man was going to assault him and he then punched the injured party once in the face.
The court heard a witness saw two people "having words" before the victim's head hit the ground "with a crack".
Defence barrister Alan Stewart said it was a 'one punch' case and his client was fortunate the outcome was not more serious.
He added: "We have all seen the adverts on TV that one punch can cause fatal consequences."
Mr Stewart said that on the day in question his client had not taken his ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) medicine and had been drinking Buckfast.
Following the assault, Mackie's father noticed his son was withdrawn and, after seeing him crying in his room, the defendant admitted "I have done something bad" and said he hit a man and had been drinking at the time.
Mr Stewart said the injured party had also been drinking, and added that Mackie's father took his son to a police station where he made a full admission.
District Judge Liam McNally said it was concerning the incident happened three days after an assault charge against Mackie was withdrawn. He was cautioned for a family incident involving him throwing a remote control.
The judge continued that he had no indication of any long-term consequences for the victim of the June 30 assault.
He added that, four days short of Mackie's 19th birthday, he would be justified in sending him to prison for six months but he took into account his guilty plea and remorse. He said Mackie did have a caution but this was his first "official court conviction".
Judge McNally said: "I am concerned you are a man with a very short fuse and when things are not going your way you have a quick temper."
He put Mackie on probation for two years with a condition he attends an anger management programme, ordered him to carry out 100 hours of community service and told him to pay £500 compensation to the victim.