Northern Ireland

Judges rule attack man's sentence 'unduly lenient'

The case was heard in the Appeal Court
Image caption The case was heard in the Appeal Court

A shop manager caught on camera repeatedly kicking a man about the head should have his jail term increased by two years, a court has ruled.

Appeal Court judges said 18 months imprisonment followed by 12 months probation imposed on Paul Ronan Seaward "was unduly lenient".

Their decision follows a challenge by the DPP to the original sentence.

The Lord Chief Justice said CCTV footage showed "a persistent and brutal assault on a defenceless victim."

Sir Declan Morgan added: "Subject to his (Seaward's) agreement we will impose a sentence of three years and six months imprisonment followed by 12 months probation.

"He will be entitled to credit for any periods spent on remand and for any period served to date."

Seaward, 21, originally from Hopefield Avenue, Belfast, was jailed for grievous bodily harm with intent and assault inflicted on two men on the Antrim Road in November 2007.

The victims were waiting for a bus when they were confronted by a group and called "Orangemen".

Seaward, who was not directly at the scene and may not have been aware of the sectarian overtones, grabbed one of the men as he tried to escape.

Hit repeatedly

The man was kicked and punched about the head and face, with forensic evidence linking his DNA to a trainer worn by Seaward.

As the second man went to his aid, he was knocked to the ground and hit repeatedly.

CCTV footage from a bus which stopped at the scene showed Seaward kicking the man's head approximately seven times while he lay on the ground.

After the initial kicks, he returned on two separate occasions to deliver further blows.

Seaward, who appeared drunk on the footage, accepted the evidence after being shown the footage.

The first victim sustained head and facial cuts, which required staples and stitching, damage to his right eye and severe bruising and swelling.

The second man suffered a fracture to the nasal bones along with swelling and bruising.

Seaward eventually pleaded guilty to one count of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and one of assault.

A report prepared before he was sentenced earlier this year disclosed that he had obtained employment as a retail outlet manager since the incident.

Lord Chief Justice Morgan, sitting with Lord Justices Higgins and Coghlin, accepted there was no element of premeditation.

However, he said the sentencing involved "a wholly inappropriate starting point".