Belfast Telegraph

Victim blinded in one eye says attacker's three-year sentence is 'pretty lenient'

By Staff Reporter

A man blinded in one eye in a "one punch" attack by his ex-wife's former partner has said a three-year sentence on the culprit is "pretty lenient".

Mark McClelland (36), originally from Ahoghill but now living elsewhere in Co Antrim with a new partner, was speaking outside Antrim Crown Court, where digger driver Chris Aitcheson (34), from Tobar Park, Cullybackey, was given a three-year sentence. He will serve half of it in jail and the other half on licence.

Mr McClelland said: "I think it was a pretty lenient sentence. I lost my right eye and had to give up my job and suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

"I have no confidence anymore and don't like to go to crowded places, even like going to the shops. It has really changed my life."

Aitcheson previously pleaded guilty to maliciously causing grievous bodily harm to Mr McClelland during an incident at Maine Park, Galgorm, on Wednesday, April 29, 2015. A previous hearing heard Mr McClelland was "defenceless" as he sat in a car beside his mother.

He went to pick up his children from ex-wife Laura McMaster, who was by then Aitcheson's partner.

The court heard a row had earlier erupted after Mr McClelland told Ms McMaster he would be unable to pick up the children at 6pm because his car was getting fixed. Prosecutor Tessa Kitson said there was a "verbal altercation" on the phone as Ms McMaster had arranged to go out. And when Mr McClelland's mother later took him to Galgorm he was confronted by Aitcheson who attacked him in the car.

The prosecutor said the victim "lost his eye" and was no longer able to work as a van driver and suffered "considerable psychological" damage about being able to provide for his children.

Ms Kitson said it was an attack on a "defenceless" man as the victim "never got a chance" to release his seat belt.

Defence QC Alan Kane told the previous court Aitcheson and Ms McMaster, had been caused "angst" previously, by Mr McClelland failing to turn up for the children and claimed tensions were raised by the words exchanged earlier between the victim and Ms McMaster.

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