Judge McFarland jails a man who shoved a pensioner to his death

Judge McFarland jails a man who shoved a pensioner to his death

AN ill-mannered thug who shoved a grandfather to the ground as they were about to board a bus has been jailed for a year.

Gareth Ashe was ordered to to serve half his sentence in prison and half on licence at Friday’s hearing.

Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland said the death of 72-year-old John Hickey had devastated his family and wife of 45 years Margaret.

She wept in court as sentenced was passed.

Judge McFarland told Belfast Crown Court he had received a poignant and moving statement from Mrs Hickey.

Quoting from it, he revealed how she described: “I don’t know who I am anymore.”

Ashe, from Harrison Walk in Belfast, had pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Mr Hickey on January 21 2012.

Mr Hickey and 31-year-old Ashe had been waiting on a bus outside Central Library on Royal Avenue.

But when the bus pulled up there was a “degree of jostling” and Ashe turned and “shoved” the pensioner back with both hands to his chest.

Mr Hickey, a father of three and grandfather to four children, stumbled back and fell, hitting his head on a metal grate which fractured his skull and caused bleeding onto his brain.

Despite the best efforts of medical staff at the Royal Victoria Hospital he tragically died a week after the incident.

Defence QC Brian McCartney had pleaded with the judge that the “unique” circumstances of the case, coupled with Ashe’s low IQ bordering on learning difficulties would have allowed him to let Ashe keep his liberty.

Judge McFarland disagreed.

He said that while it was a very difficult case to sentence, “it had catastrophic consequences” and so was of the view that “an immediate custodial sentence was called for”.





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