A man who struck a former friend on the head with a wheelbrace in a “shameful” early morning attack has been told he was fortunate not to have either killed the victim or left him with life-changing injuries. Caleb Lee Ewart (20), of Sea Road, Castlerock, County Londonderry, hit the victim around 1.30am on November 5 last year leaving him with abrasions to his head and neck and a fractured wrist.
The defendant admitted charges of assault occasioning actual bodily harm; possessing a wheelbrace as an offensive weapon at Sea Road and causing criminal damage to an iPhone belonging to the victim.
At Coleraine Magistrates Court on Friday, Deputy District Judge Paul Conway told the defendant: “This was shameful behaviour, utterly shameful, and you are very lucky that you are here in this court for an offence of AOABH and not the Crown Court facing an offence of manslaughter.
“The striking of someone on the head with an iron bar has to be one of the most dangerous and reckless acts committed. You could easily have caused either death or serious or prolonged life-changing injuries and all because there was some previous animosity between you”.
The judge said Ewart’s actions were totally disproportionate.
He said if the defendant had not pleaded guilty or if he had any previous convictions he would have been jailed. The judge accepted character references seemed to point to the incident being “totally out of character”.
He ordered Ewart to do 200 hours of Community Service and to pay £1,000 compensation to the victim which included the cost of the iPhone. Earlier in the court a prosecutor said the victim had gone to an address in Castlerock and was struck twice on the head with a wheelbrace by Ewart.
The victim ran off and was chased by Ewart who again attacked him with the wheelbrace and the male had to put up his arm to fend him off.
The prosecutor said Ewart claimed to police he had receiving “threatening texts” from the victim. Defence barrister Alan Stewart said some of the facts were disputed and said if the victim had been struck on the head with a wheelbrace it would have been incredible that injuries were not more severe although he accepted the culpability in the case was “huge”.
He said Ewart had been friends with the victim from a young age but there were “matters” which led up to the incident. “It didn’t happen just out of the blue,” he added.
Mr Stewart said Ewart had described his own actions as “totally disgraceful” and “the biggest mistake of his life” and although he had apologised the two former friends “haven’t rebuilt their bridges”.