PICTURE : MARK JAMIESON
A 50-year-old man who ripped clumps of hair from a young woman’s head after he dragged her across a dance floor in a north coast bar on Christmas Eve has avoided going to jail after appealing a prison sentence.
Recently, Ronald William White, a married father-of-two, of Castleroe Road, Coleraine, had pleaded guilty to offences of assault occasioning actual bodily harm; assault and disorderly behaviour relating to a shocking incident at the a licensed premises in Portstewart last Christmas.
At Coleraine Magistrates Court in mid-April he was given a four months jail sentence but was released pending appeal.
He accepted his guilt but was appealing the sentence and at the County Court this week, it has emerged, the prison term was replaced with a three months jail sentence, suspended for three years.
However, the County Court ordered him to pay £1,000 compensation to one of his victims and £500 to another.
Coleraine Magistrates Court heard last month that as well as pulling one woman across the dance floor White punched another woman during the Christmas Eve incident.
Imposing the original jail term, District Judge Peter King had said the courts had to send out a strong message that such attacks could not be tolerated.
The judge had told Coleraine Magistrates Court: “This was an unprovoked assault by a 50-year-old man on two young girls on Christmas Eve. It was gratuitous, humiliating and completely and utterly uncalled for”.
He said one of the women lost clumps of hair and had added: “This was gross, unnecessary, violence on two young girls out on Christmas Eve enjoying themselves”.
A prosecutor had told the Magistrates Court that White had been walking across a dance floor when he spilled drink over one of the woman and he then put his forehead towards her and asked through gritted teeth: “What the f**k is your problem?” before launching assaults.
One of the woman lost part of her hair after being pulled across the floor by White and was scratched in the face. She now suffers from post traumatic stress disorder and suffers panic attacks, the court was told.
When interviewed, White told police he had been out to a number of venues and couldn’t remember going upstairs in the bar as he was drunk.
He claimed he had not taken alcohol for two years as he “didn’t like hangovers”.
After watching the incident on CCTV White had said he would like to meet the women and apologise to them, the prosecutor said.
Defence barrister Alan Stewart had told the Magistrates Court it was a “shameful incident” and his client, a lorry driver, said he was “completely gutted” by what he done.
Said Mr Stewart: “He has a daughter, he knows how he would feel if someone had done that to his daughter”.
The barrister said White could give no explanation for his actions after a friend asked him to go out but because it was Christmas the defendant decided to drink and had lots of beer and spirits.
Mr Stewart said White had brought shame on his family and had been off alcohol since the incident.