Belfast Telegraph

Shooting victim who took machete to festival avoids immediate prison

District Judge Fiona Bagnall deferred sentencing for six months at Belfast Magistrates’ Court
District Judge Fiona Bagnall deferred sentencing for six months at Belfast Magistrates’ Court

By Alan Erwin

A man who armed himself with a machete after being shot at a festival has avoided immediate imprisonment.

Belfast Magistrates' Court heard John Paul Magennis, 31, returned to the Ardoyne Fleadh brandishing the blade following a suspected bullet wound to his leg.

Deferring sentencing for six months, District Judge Fiona Bagnall said it was to see if he co-operates with probation orders for unrelated assault and criminal damage offences.

She warned: "If he doesn't he will be going to immediate custody."

Magennis, of Oldpark Road in north Belfast, was said to have been shot while attending the nearby festival on August 25.

A prosecution lawyer told the court he left the scene, obtained a machete-type weapon, and headed back to the Fleadh.

Police were then alerted to a man in the Ardoyne Avenue area armed with what was described as a sword.

Magennis admitted possession of an offensive weapon in a public place.

He was also convicted of assaulting a police designated person, and criminal damage to house windows and a plant pot during two unconnected incidents in September and November this year.

Defence barrister Michael Boyd told the court it was accepted that his client's leg had been grazed by a bullet fired during the festival.

"There was never any dispute about the fact he had been involved and possibly the target of the shooting," counsel said.

"For whatever reason he decided the best thing to do was to arm himself with the machete or sword and return to the scene."

Describing the incident as "bizarre", Mr Boyd stressed: "No one was hurt, no one was threatened by him."

The court heard Magennis has led a chaotic lifestyle fuelled by drink and drugs in recent months, but should be given credit for his guilty pleas.

"Perhaps he's done enough to narrowly avoid going to jail straight away," his lawyer added.

Imposing two years probation for the assault and criminal damage, Judge Bagnall decided to defer sentencing for the machete offence until June next year.

She emphasised Magennis must fully co-operate with probation and not re-offending in the intervening period.

Mr Boyd acknowledged: "It's a generous disposal."

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