A 57-year-old man has been sentenced to five months in prison for offences a judge said were ‘fuelled by racial hatred’.
However, Patrick Aidan McCartan, Dromore Road, Banbridge, has been freed on bail so that he can appeal against the convictions.
McCartan was charged with harassment of a man on dates between December 4, 2015 and December 31, 2015 and a further harassment charge against a second man on dates between December 14, 2015 and December 31, 2015.
He was also accused of assaulting the second man occasioning him actual bodily harm on October 16, 2015.
McCartan was convicted after a contested hearing and the sentencing adjourned until last Wednesday at Craigavon Magistrates Court so that a pre-sentence report could be prepared.
No details of the background to the matters were opened at last week’s court.
A barrister representing the defendant said it was shown in the report that his client was entrenched in his position and that he was going to appeal.
District Judge, Mrs Bernie Kelly, read from a victim impact statement in which the injured party said that McCartan was still working as a taxi driver and ‘was still staring at me when our paths cross’.
“These are very serious matters fuelled by racial hatred,” said the judge.
She certified that they were racially motivated which was a serious aggravating factor and took the matter beyond the custody threshold.
For each of the three offences she imposed a five month jail term and ordered the defendant to pay a £25 offender’s levy.
McCartan was taken down to the cells in the courthouse.
The bail hearing was heard in the afternoon of the court.
Judge Kelly said she would hear it as the next date available for appeal was three weeks away.
She said she had ‘grave concerns’ about releasing him on bail.
The defence lawyer said his client offered to work in Banbridge or Newry.
Judge Kelly said: “I am going to ban him from Rushmere.”
She released McCartan on his own bail of £250 to reside in Banbridge.
He is banned from Rushmere Shopping Centre and surrounding roads.
He is also banned from Lurgan and he is not to contact any of the witnesses.