Bottle attack: Four-year suspended sentence

A man has appeared before Londonderry Crown Court, where he pleaded guilty to wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

The court heard that Steven Walmsley, whose address cannot be published for legal reasons, assaulted a man with a bottle.

On hearing the evidence in the case Walmsley was given a four year jail sentence, suspended for two years, by Judge Philip Babington.

The charge relates to an incident at a house in Claudy on March 2, 2013.

The court heard the injured party sustained an injury to his head which required 22 stitches. He also sustained a laceration to his cheek which required a total of 56 stitches.

During the hearing it was further revealed that Walmsley was assaulted on this night and suffered a significant brain injury.

However, no one was ever charged with this due to insufficient evidence.

The court was told the 46-year-old and the injured party met up and went to a bar in the village.

They were known to each other and were on friendly terms.

Another man joined their company and they went back to the injured party’s home.

The court heard a fight broke out between Walmsley and the other man.

At one stage Walmsley grabbed a bottle and the injured party was struck on the head when he tried to intervene.

The bottle broke and the court was told that the defendant then struck the injured party on the cheek.

After the assault took place the injured party went to a neighbour’s house to get help, but he and the defendant ended up wrestling on the ground.

Walmsley then got up and ran off.

Police subsequently discovered the defendant near a bus stop on the Glenshane Road. They noted he was bleeding from a wound on his head.

The court heard Walmsley suffered a “significant brain injury” which caused permanent damage and it was agreed he was also assaulted on the night.

Passing sentence, Judge Babington said although no one had been charged with assaulting the defendant it seemed, on the balance of probabilities, that one or both of the other two people who had been in or about the scene that night was probably responsible.

He said he had read a number of reports on Walmsley and all said that prison would be “much more difficult for him than a normal person”.

“This is a very unusual set of circumstances. It may well be that another or others have taken the law, as they see it, into their own hands,” he said.

He said it would not be just or proper to sentence Walmsley to an immediate custodial sentence.