Court told incident was ‘act of bravado’

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A young man carrying a crossbow and wearing a balaclava and combat trousers could not have known that his actions would lead to the death of a man, Craigavon Magistrates Court heard last Wednesday.

Mark McKinley (20), Bluestone Hall, Craigavon, admitted possession of an offensive weapon, a crossbow, at Enniskeen on September 15, 2012.

The court heard that at 10.30pm police received a report of a young man who was very drunk, armed with a crossbow and wearing a balaclava and combat trousers walking in Enniskeen.

When interviewed McKinley said it was unloaded and refused to say what his intention was to do with the weapon.

He said he threw it into the lakes but police were unable to locate it.

The case had been adjourned from a previous court so that a pre-sentence report could be obtained.

A barrister for McKinley said the crossbow had been obtained from a market and this was an act of bravado.

There had been a long running feud over a girl and an individual who is serving a sentence concerned with the death of David Neill.

The lawyer added it was quite a positive report and the defendant’s mother and father were in court to support their son.

He said that McKinley was progressing well in his new job and as soon as he gets this matter behind him he will not be back in court.

District Judge, Mr Mervyn Bates, said that what happened after this incident was extremely serious with a man being killed.

He told McKinley that what he did was extremely foolish but what happened afterwards was not something he could have foreseen.

Judge Bates said that he was concerned about the nature of the weapon which had been acquired with the intention of causing fear and apprehension.

He added that it would be perfectly reasonable to deal with this by way of custodial sentence, however, he had read the pre-sentence report and a reference from the defendant’s employer who thought well of him.

Judge Bates imposed an 18 month probation order on the defendant with the requirement that he attend the Thinking Skills programme.

“Any suggestion of a breach of this order and there is no option but custody,” said Judge Bates.

“I know you didn’t intend to happen what did but it was very foolish behaviour.”