Thug who pursued man down street with hatchet avoids prison
A hatchet-wielding thug who chased a man in the street has avoided jail.
William McFall (24), with an address at Mark Street in Portrush, struck in nearby Portstewart on November 27, 2015, Coleraine Magistrates Court was told.
The defendant had been due to contest the two charges he faced, namely possessing a hatchet as an offensive weapon at a chip shop in Portstewart and common assault.
In court a prosecutor said the assault charge was being withdrawn, and McFall entered a guilty plea to the other offence.
The prosecuting lawyer explained that police received a report that a man "wielding an axe" was chasing another in the seaside town.
Officers began a search and received a further report that a man had been approached by another brandishing a hatchet at a chip shop, and CCTV was seized from inside the premises.
Defence barrister Francis Rafferty said the defendant accepted he was carrying the hatchet.
He said McFall, who has a criminal record, had drink taken and believed it was necessary to carry the axe "for his own protection".
Added Mr Rafferty: "It may be his record came to the attention of other ne'er-do-wells in the area.
"It was an ill-advised attempt at pre-emptive self-defence."
District Judge Peter King said the defendant had previously been in court for offences which included making threats to kill.
Regarding the charges before the court this week, the judge said McFall could consider himself fortunate that the prosecution had withdrawn the assault matter.
The judge ordered that the hatchet be destroyed.
He imposed a four-month prison term, suspended for 30 months.
He told McFall: "If you have issues with your personal safety, the first port of call has to be with the police, not the hatchet."