N. Ireland Politics

Three jailed over roles in Larne mob attack

Two men and a woman have been jailed after a mob attack on a house that resulted in a family being intimidated from their County Antrim home.

The victim was in his house in Larne when he was beaten unconscious by a masked and armed gang in March 2014.

Steven Adam Blackwood, Stephen Mettleton and Elizabeth Sharon Milligan received prison terms for their roles.

The judge who sentenced the trio said the incident would have "absolutely terrified the occupants".

Blackwood, 30, of Moyard Gardens in Greenisland in County Antrim, and 35-year-old Mettleton, from Rossmore Garden in the same town, admitted charges of affray and intimidating the occupants of the house to leave their home.

Other charges, including attempted murder, were not pursued after prosecutors were unable to provide evidence that the two men were centrally involved.

The judge at Belfast Crown Court said their presence as part of the 70-strong mob was both pre-planned and organised, with a purpose of intimidating the man "through a display of force".

Ruptured

About 12 people from the gang broke into the victim's home and beat him.

He sustained a fractured skull, multiple fractured ribs and a ruptured spleen among other injuries.

Blackwood and Mettleton were sentenced to 20 months in jail.

They will spend half of their terms in prison with the remainder on licence after their release.

Milligan, from Grange Park in Ballyclare, County Antrim, pleaded guilty to a charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

The 38-year-old gave a false alibi to police for Mettleton, who at the time of the incident was her boyfriend.

Destructive

The judge said she had persisted with the lie for 17 months and "had plenty of opportunities to desist from [it] but chose not to do so."

She was given a 12-month prison sentence and will spend half of that term in jail, with the rest on licence on her release.

Blackwood's barrister said at a previous hearing that her client had embarked on a "destructive spiral" that resulted in him "becoming involved in anti-social behaviour and associated paramilitary threats".

A lawyer for Mettleton said his client had displayed "genuine remorse for his involvement".

He added that Mettleton "is not someone who is particularly well equipped intellectually, which may give an idea of the nature of his role".

A lawyer for Milligan said what she did had had been "an act of stupidity".