Bangor man is acquitted of charge of assaulting man outside wedding reception in County Down

Bangor man is acquitted of charge of assaulting man outside wedding reception in County Down

A BANGOR man who had been accused of assaulting another man outside a wedding reception has been acquitted of the charge.

Thomas Sutherland (32), of Springfield Road, had been alleged to have assaulted James Girvan outside a venue in north Down on June 22, 2019.

The accused denied the charge and contested the case at Newtownards Magistrates' Court.

Mr Girvan told the court around 12.30am he had been at a wedding and had got into a taxi.

He said he then noticed his fiancee was being "attacked" by a group of women near the taxi and he got out.

He said he then heard shouting and Mr Sutherland was running towards him.

Mr Girvan said he "pushed" him away as he believed he was going to be "attacked".

Mr Girvan said he held Mr Sutherland's arms and a woman asked him to let go of Mr Sutherland.

Mr Girvan claimed that as he was speaking to her and looking in her direction he was "headbutted" by Mr Sutherland and his eye began to swell.

In the witness box, Mr Sutherland said he had been at a wedding and was waiting to get a taxi.

After an incident involving a number of women, he said his "perception" was that his partner had been struck.

He told the court that during a melee if there was any contact on Mr Girvan from him it "wasn't deliberate" and there could have been an accidental "clash of heads".

A defence lawyer said there had been a "drunken melee".

The defence lawyer said it could not be proven beyond reasonable doubt that the accused had assaulted Mr Girvan.

District Judge Mark Hamill acquitted the defendant of the assault charge saying it had been the word of Mr Girvan against Mr Sutherland.

The judge said Mr Sutherland had a clear record.

He said the charge had not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt and there was "not a hope of conviction".

The judge said images in a video shown to the court were unclear.

The judge said it had been a "lively enough wedding" where "all Hell was breaking loose over this taxi" and Mr Girvan had "ended up with a black eye".

He added that according to Mr Girvan at least six females had been "kicking at his girlfriend on the ground at one stage".

The judge said there had been a "disgraceful melee at the end of a wedding probably over who was going to get the taxi".

He said it had been a "violent, disgraceful, drunken, melee" and in an "ideal world" those involved should have been "rounded up, brought to court and asked 'Why shouldn't you be bound over to keep the peace?'"

  • Main picture: Generic picture of wedding rings.