“This court has a fundamental duty to protect the public from gangs and thuggery”, a judge has said as he imprisoned a Cookstown man for four months.
The defendant, David Mark Cunningham, 18, from Riverside Drive, was appearing at East Tyrone Magistrate’s Court to be sentenced for his part on an attack on a family in the car park at McDonald’s Restaurant in Cookstown on April 6th.
The court heard how a man was using the drive through at the restaurant with a friend as well as his sister and mother.
His sister returned to the car in tears after a group of males including the defendant had said something to her.
Cunningham’s group, just ten feet away, began pointing at the car and demanding to know what the driver “was looking at?”
With another man, the defendant came to the side of the car, reached in and grabbed the keys from the ignition. While the two grappled for the keys, the defendant was heard to say: “You don’t know who you are picking a fight with” before demanding that the driver get out of his car.
“You don’t know who you are picking a fight with”
The driver attempted to get the car moving again, but Cunningham jumped onto his car bonnet and sat down with his face pressed up against the windscreen.
He jumped off but continued to make demands for the driver to exit the car.
The injured party contacted the police soon afterwards the report the incident.
The next morning, the same driver was filling his car at the Burn Road Service Station when Cunningham and another male entered the shop.
He demanded to know why the victim had phoned the police on his friend and proceeded to follow him around the shop.
“You know what happens to touts?” he told the injured party. “All touts are targets,” he told him.
One of the two men also stated that they knew where he lived and that they would “sort him out”.
Cunningham continued to make comments as the driver returned to his car, and he positioned himself right in front of the vehicle so the driver had to manoeuvre around him.
Mr Noel Dillian, defending, told the court that his client would like to apologise to all involved. Mr Dillon said that his client’s only wish was to avoid becoming a victim of the “vicious circle” of custody and crime after appearing for the first time in adult court.
“The court has a fundamental duty to protect the public from gangs and thuggery,” said District Judge John Meehan.
“This was sadistic and hedonistic behaviour ... we must take this sort of behaviour off our streets.
“You will take responsibility for all that you have done,” he told the defendant. “There are consequences ... for your brazen efforts to rule the streets.”
Judge Meehan then handed down three prison sentences in the Young Offenders’ Centre totalling four months for criminal damage to the car, disorderly behaviour, and intimidation of a witness.