Video: CCTV of vicious attack on ex-UVF man Moore - five jailed for 'almighty beating'
Five Co Antrim men who a judge said had meted out an "almighty beating'' to former UVF man Darren Moore in a bar have been handed prison sentences totalling 23 years.
Joshua Wylie (20), of Galgorm Road, Ballymena received a seven year sentence after he hit Moore so hard with a baseball bat that in broke in two during the attack in a bar in Doagh last year.
David Rush (36) of Ballyvessey Green, Newtownabbey, was handed a six year sentence while Robert Campbell (33), of Clareville AVenue, Ballyclare, received a five and a half year sentence.
Aaron Norman Cahoon (28), of Cherrymount in Newtownabbey and David Gibson (45), of Milewater Drive, New Mossley, were each handed four and a half year sentences.
Wylie, Rush and Campbell had pleaded guilty to causing grievious bodily with intent on Darren Moore, a former Irish League footballer, on March 15, 2017.
Cahoon and Gibson pleaded guilty to a single charge of aiding and abetting grievous bodily harm.
Releasing CCTV of the attack Police welcomed the sentencing saying that despite there being no co-operation from the victims or witnesses they were able to secure the convictions through their "robust investigation".
"This should act as a warning to anyone involved in the violence associated with Paramilitarism that we will work tirelessly to put them in front of the courts," said Detective Chief Inspector Dunny McCubbin. Police are continuing to appeal for information in relation to the attack.
Sentencing at Belfast Crown Court, on Monday, December 17, Judge Desmond Marrninan told the five defendants that they would serve half their sentences in custody and half on licence following their release from prison.
He said Moore had been "involved in loyalist paramiltary activity'' and the motive for the attack was "revenge as he had fallen out with the group''.
The judge added that the attack had "many elements of paramilitary punishment beating but the defendants deny they were members of any such group'' but claimed they had been either "cajoled or pressed to joining the assault''.
Judge Marrinan added: "This attack was not spontaneous. It was planned with vehicles used to take people to and from the scene. There was a brief reconnaissance of the scene, various weapons including a hammer, a metal bar and a baseball bat were used to attack the victim.
"It is one thing to read about such attacks in the news or on television that occur with grim regularlity in recent times and quite often in Co Antrim.
"It is quite another matter to watch an attack actually unfold screen or DVD.
"A cold blooded decision was taken to give this man a savage and sustained beating at rush hour in a public bar in the middle of the village in Doagh.''
The judge said that "so brazen was the attack the attackers didn't bother to conceal their appearances'' to carry out the attack in the full view of other patrons, "ordinary folk who must have shocked and traumatised by what they were forced to witness''.
"The number of attackers involved meant that the victim was overwhelmed easily and left with no prospect whatsoever of any self defence,'' remarked Judge Marrinan.
He said that any of the blows to the head of Moore with a claw hammer "could have been fatal'' before being attacked by Wylie with a baseball.
"Such incidents of gratuitous violence are utterly repugnant in a civilised society.
"The severity and the intensity of the attack with the use of potentially deadly weapons demonstrated the attack showed a chilling indifference to the severity of the injuries that the victim might suffer.
"Courts in Northern Ireland have said repeatedly that such crimes call for the imposition of sentences to clearly mark society's utter rejection of such offences and to send a clear signal to those who engage in this type of violence that the consequences for such crimes is condine punishment, irrespective whether or not the participants were members of paramiliaries or some form of self appointed vigilantes.
"To do otherwise would undermine the rule of law.''
Last Friday, prosecution barrister Robin Steer told the court: "This was a planned attack by an armed group involving ten males on Darren Moore at McConnell's bar in Doagh around 6 pm.
"The attack was co-ordinated, with members of the group arriving in the area at the same time, some by vehicle.
"Three members of the group - Joshua Wylie, David Rush and Robert Campbell - carried out an initial reconnaissance to confirm if the injured party was in the bar before the whole group arrived en masse.
"A number of weapons were produced - a claw hammer, a baseball bat and a bar.
"After the incident, the group rapidly dispersed and some of the group switched vehicles shortly afterwards in an attempt to evade detection.''
A group of ten people were captured on CCTV walking into premises where Darren Moore was sitting at a table drinking with two others.
Around seven males then entered the bar and "took an active part in the assault''with three males remaining in the foyer.
Moore (48), who at one time played for Crusaders Football Club, was first attacked by a man in a blue hooded jacket with a claw hammer to the head, felling him to the ground.
"A second male in a dark hooded jacket, also not before the court, strikes Mr Moore with what appears to be a bar while he is lying prone on the ground.''
Mr Steer said Wylie also got involved and was a "central player in the assault who can be seen delivering approximately a dozen strikes with a baseball bat''.
"He continually beats Mr Moore with the baseball bat whilst he is lying prone on the ground until the baseball bat breaks.''
CCTV footage showed Campbell picking up a glass and throwing it at Moore before lifting a bar stool and striking Moore on the back of the head.
After initially leaving the bar, the group returned to attack Moore, said Mr Steer, and Wylie is seen with the broken baseball bat in his right hand and "stabs down at Mr Moore with this weapon''.
Campbell then picked up a short bar stool and struck Moore to the ankle while Rush was seen trying to get at Moore but were held back by another person.
"Mr Rush then leaves holding a broken baseball bat handle in his hand. Finally, Robert Campbell strikes Mr Moore with the bar stool again. At the end of the incident all run out of the bar.''
The prosecutor said Moore was taken to Antrim Area Hospital where he was treated for lacerations to his head, behind his ear, the back of the head, right shoulder and abdomen.
A CT scan showed that he suffered a "depressed skull fracture, multiple rib fractures and several fractures to the thoraci spinal process''.
Following the attack, Mr Steer said police visited the bar and recovered the broken baseball bat. Police identified Campbell from bar CCTV footage.
An hour later police recovered Cahoon's Honda Civic in Newtownabbey and found a claw hammer in the rear passenger footwell. Blood on it matched Moore's DNA, the court heard.
The prosecution lawyer said police later stopped an Audi car in Glengormley and Cahoon was arrested and the key to his Civic car was found in the boot of the Audi.
Campbell was arrested in Antrim Area Hospital the following day and Rush was apprehended the same day at his home.
Gibson was arrested at Belfast Magistrates' Court two days after the assault and Wylie was detained the following month.
During police interview, Wylie claimed he was "acting under duress''. He alleged that he was approached by a man and "told to carry out this attack and was given a baseball bat and that he was in fear of his life''.
The court heard from his defence counsel Paddy Lyttle QC that Wylie had owed a "£5,000 drug debt'' and carried out the attack fearing if he didn't he would get another serious beating after being assaulted months earlier.
Belfast Telegraph Digital