Public servants will be protected vows judge as he jails man for assault
A father-of-seven who flagged down a passing Housing Executive maintenance man near his home before calling him a "paedophile" and attacking him has been jailed for three months.
District Judge Peter King told Ballymena Magistrates Court yesterday: "This victim was a public servant going about his business."
The judge told Patrick Ward (33), of Sandown Park, Ballymena: "It is quite clear when you flagged him down he thought you needed some help with a maintenance issue.
"You attacked him. It was quite clear the injured party was telling you he was a Housing Executive employee, but that didn't stop the attack.
"I have to send out a very clear message that public servants in this town are protected whilst going about their normal duty."
A defence lawyer said it was a "mistaken identity attack".
The incident happened at Sandown Park in the town's Doury Road estate on August 24 this year.
A prosecutor said that police received a report of an assault at Sandown Park around noon on the day.
A workman said he was driving along when Ward flagged him down and tried to open the door of the vehicle, while asking him what he was doing in the area.
The lawyer said Ward called the workman a "paedophile" and struck out at the man leaving him with cuts and bruises to his face and head.
The prosecutor said the workman tried to tell Ward he was working with the Housing Executive but it had no effect.
A previous hearing heard Ward had CCTV at his own house which captured the incident.
A defence lawyer told yesterday's hearing the attack was "inexcusable" and that it was a "mistaken identity assault".
He said the defendant had been drinking and the assault lasted no more than 30 seconds although verbal abuse had continued.
The lawyer said Ward would not be able to do any community service locally "given a threat he feels he is under in the Ballymena area".
Judge King said he took into account the guilty plea but on the other hand the defendant had a number of previous convictions.
Jailing Ward, he said he had to send a "clear message" out that public servants would be protected.