Stewartstown husband and wife who attacked 78-year-old man given suspended jail sentences

Dungannon Courthouse TT0509-JS112
Dungannon Courthouse TT0509-JS112

A Stewartstown husband and wife who assaulted a 78-year old man in a bar have had a three month suspended prison sentence imposed.

Christopher and Louise Cunningham, both 38, from Henderson Park, were appearing before East Tyrone Magistrate’s Court in Dungannon to be sentenced after being convicted of assaulting a pensioner on August 9.

The court heard how Louise Cunningham launched into a verbal attack on the 78-year old in a Stewartstown bar, urging her husband to hit him before slapping the injured party herself.

Staff at the bar intervened, the court heard, and moved the pensioner into another part of the establishment.

However, the Cunninghams followed them.

Christopher Cunningham punched the elderly gentleman in the back of the head while Louise Cunningham slapped him several times.

Their victim’s injuries included bruising on his arms and torso, nail marks on his neck, and pain to his head.

A solicitor for the Cunninghams told the court that his clients had admitted the charge to police under interview after being shown CCTV footage.

He said that they had been married for ten years and were parents to a number of small children. He also disclosed that Ms Cunningham is currently thirty weeks pregnant.

The solicitor told the court that both his clients were deeply regretful of their actions and that they had “acted impulsively” towards the defendant, who is known to the couple, on the day in question.

District Judge John Meehan dismissed this argument.

“It sounds premeditated to me,” he told the court. “They followed him after being separated. One encouraged her husband to beat the man.

“They continue to try to minimise their actions. It is repugnant ... they beat up a 78-year old man in a bar,” he told the defence solicitor asking him to drop his “vendetta argument”.

“It is inexcusable behaviour ... you attacked a 78-year old because of some grudge.

“This was a sustained attack and it was the two of you against him. It is utterly abhorrent,” Judge Meehan concluded.

He then turned to sentencing and handed down three months imprisonment for the assaults which he suspended for two years.

He also imposed Compensation Orders of £230 for two counts of criminal damage and the assault on Christopher Cunningham and an order of £210 upon Louise Cunningham for the assault and damage to the injured party’s shirt.