A JUDGE jailed a ‘coward’ for five years on Thursday after the thug attacked a defenceless pensioner in his own home, kicking and stamping on his head, body and ankle.
At Belfast Crown Cour, Judge Gordon Kerr QC told Christopher Mitchell that the attack was an “appalling offence”.
The 21-year-old, from Ballyfore Park, Ballyduff in Newtownabbey, was ordered to spend half his sentence in jail and half on licence.
And he was taken to the cells with a warning ringing in his ears that but for his guilty pleas he would have faced an eight-year term for burglary, causing grievous bodily harm with intent and possessing cannabis.
Judge Kerr told Mitchell: “A man lawfully in his own home who came upon you unlawfully in his house, rummaging through his possessions and when he made an effort to protect himself, he was met with a flurry of violence, including placing him on the ground and kicking him.”
Prosecuting lawyer Rosemary Walsh had told the court how Mr Beggs, 72, had walked into the kitchen of his home on the Doagh Road in Newtownabbey on 5 May last year around 5.40 pm only to be confronted by Mitchell rummaging through a wardrobe.
Having asked him what he was doing, Mitchell “lunged at him” and although the pensioner managed to land a blow, he was knocked to the ground where Mitchell kicked him in the head and body.
Ms Walsh said that at one point during the attack, Mitchell “jumped” on his victim’s right ankle, breaking it.
Mr Beggs, said the lawyer, was left with cuts and bruises to his head and body and had to undergo two operations on his ankle which was further complicated by repeated infections.
After police uncovered a bag of booze Mitchell had left behind, his house was searched two days later with officers uncovering a small piece of cannabis. But he handed himself into police and admitted what he had done.
Ms Walsh said he claimed, however, that Mr Beggs hit him so he struck back and that as he tried to leave, the pensioner had grabbed him by the leg so he “kicked out”.
Mitchell did tell police that he was “truly sorry” for what had happened, but that he was not himself as he had been drinking heavily and had not taken his medication.
Defence lawyer Richard Greene conceded: “By any standard it has to be acknowledged that this is a particularly serious offence….there’s little that can be said on behalf of Mr Mitchell that would in anyway make Mr Beggs feel any better”.
He also said there was “absolutely no suggestion” that Mitchell had been acting in self defence and added there was “light on the horizon” as since he has been in custody, Mitchell has taken steps to deal with his problems and addictions.
Jailing him, however, Judge Kerr said his problems were “no excuse for the appalling and disgraceful way you behaved on this evening.”
“The violence you used wasn’t commensurate with trying to escape,” the judge told him, “it was the violence of someone who was out of control and just wished to inflict pain on an old man like a coward.”