Dungannon ‘racist’ attacker joins Army Reserves

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A Dungannon man who was part of a 12 strong group which launched an “explicitly racist” attack on two black men as they walked down the street, has since signed up to the Army Reserves in a bid to build his character, the town’s Magistrates Court has heard.

Jonathan Kerr, 23, from Elm Drive in Bush, had pleaded guilty to one count of disorderly behaviour relating to the incident, but contested two common assault charges, although he was later convicted of both.

The court heard the two victims had been walking towards a barber’s shop on November 9, 2013, when a group of around 12 “white youths” began calling them names from across the street.

One of the group, later identified as Kerr, threw a glass of beer at one of the victims and then punched him.

During a police interview, Kerr claimed he had been acting as “peacemaker” on this occasion.

Reading the facts of the case to the court, District Judge John Meehan said Kerr had been drinking for a number of hours at a bar on Church Street before the attack.

Addressing the defendant directly, the Judge said: “You were part of a group of 12 white youths who saw two black men coming down the street going to a barber’s. You set out on an explicitly racist attack on them, you were to the forefront of that attack. You punched the injured party and this in turn led to a chase. This was a cowardly racist attack.”

In defence, Kerr’s barrister handed in two letters of reference to the court, one of which was from his employment as a tree surgeon.

The barrister explained that Kerr has since signed up to the Army Reserves, adding: “It is hoped this will give him the backbone and stability that he (Kerr) needs.”

Kerr’s barrister added that the defendant had experienced personal difficulties which included the sudden death of his father, but stressed there was “hope for this young man”.

Judge Meehan sentenced Kerr to 18 weeks in prison and ordered him to pay £150 compensation to each victim. Bail to appeal was set at £200.