Northern Ireland

County Antrim man jailed following attacks with bag of potatoes and a knife

Laganside Courthouse

A County Antrim man who injured three generations of a family - one of whom he attacked with a bag of potatoes - has been given a five-year sentence.

Gareth McAllister from Rogan Manor in Newtownabbey attacked a teenager, his father and grandfather in June 2015.

McAllister, 19, initially attacked the father with a bag of potatoes outside the family home.

Four days later he slashed the youngest victim across the forehead with a knife.

He also assaulted police during his arrest.

'Extremely serious'

Describing McAllister's offending as "extremely serious," the judge handed him a five-year sentence - half of which will be served in custody, with the remainder on supervised licence upon his release.

Prior to sentencing, Belfast Crown Court heard the first incident occurred in the early hours of 6 June last year, when McAllister approached a house on Antrim Road in north Belfast.

When the father answered the door, McAllister asked about the whereabouts of another family member, before punching the man in the face and hitting him with a bag of potatoes.

Four days later, the father's teenage son was attacked by McAllister in the forecourt of a garage on the Antrim Road.

Slashed forehead

McAllister slashed the teenager's forehead, and when the young victim's father and grandfather intervened, they sustained hand and other wounds trying to disarm the attacker.

The laceration to the teenager's forehead required 13 staples, and has left him with permanent scarring.

When police arrested him, McAllister spat at several officers, as well as assaulting two civilian custody officers at the police station.

He initially told police he did not hurt anyone with a knife, then refused to answer any questions.

McAllister subsequently pleaded guilty to ten offences including wounding and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

'Out of his head'

A lawyer representing McAllister confirmed his client was "clearly out of his head on drink and drugs", adding that at the time he had a "substance abuse problem".

He said his client was only 18 at the time, and "deeply regretted his actions".

Pronouncing sentence, the judge said it was clear that McAllister had addiction issues.

"He accepts what he did, but doesn't fully accept or understand the effect his actions had on these people," he added.