PICTURE : MARK JAMIESON
A hatchet-wielding thug who chased a man in Portstewart has avoided jail.
William McFall (24), with an address at Mark Street in Portrush, appeared at the main weekly sitting of Coleraine Magistrates Court.
The defendant had been due to contest the two charges he faced – possessing a hatchet as an offensive weapon at a chip shop in Portstewart and also a common assault charge.
At court a prosecutor said the assault charge was being withdrawn and McFall entered a guilty plea to having the hatchet as an offensive weapon.
The prosecuting lawyer said police received a report a man “wielding an axe” was chasing another male in Portstewart.
Officers began a search and received a further report that a male had been approached by a man brandishing a hatchet at a chip shop and CCTV was seized from inside the premises.
Defence barrister Francis Rafferty said the defendant accepted he brandished the hatchet. He said McFall, who had a bad criminal record, had drink taken and his client believed it was necessary to carry the hatchet “for his own protection”.
Added Mr Rafferty: “It may be his record came to the attention of other ne’er do wells in the area”. He continued: “It was an ill-advised attempt at pre-emptive self-defence”.
District Judge Peter King said the defendant had previously been in court for offences including making threats to kill.
Regarding the charges before the court this week, the judge said McFall could consider himself fortunate that the prosecution had withdrawn the assault matter.
The judge ordered that the hatchet be destroyed and imposed a four months jail term, suspended for 30 months.
He told McFall: “If you have issues with your personal safety the first port of call has to be with the police, not the hatchet”.