A BARRISTER who stopped to help a drunk man near Ballymena Courthouse had a can of beer thrown at him which struck the back of his head.
Ryan Dallas (21), of Rockend in Corkey near Ballymoney, admitted charges of assault; being disorderly at Ballymoney Road in Ballymena and resisting a police officer in relation to February 7 this year.
The defendant was, on Thursday, in the same courthouse for sentencing.
A prosecutor said the lawyer had just left a solicitor's office around 5.45pm when Dallas had thrown a can of beer which hit him on the back of the head.
The prosecutor said she believed the can was "half full".
The court heard the barrister told police he had "been trying to help the intoxicated male outside the solicitor's office but it became clear that due to the level of intoxication trying to speak with the male was pointless".
At that point the lawyer had walked away and he was struck with the beer can and although he was hit on the head there was "no lasting injury".
The prosecutor said the lawyer had photographed the man on his mobile phone.
The defendant was still in the area and when police attended Dallas was "highly intoxicated" and ignored a warning about his behaviour and "became aggressive" and "lashed out" at officers.
District Judge Nigel Broderick asked if it was a "random assault" or if there was any "animosity" between Dallas and the barrister.
The prosecutor said: "No animosity. In fact the victim had stopped to try and offer assistance to the defendant".
A defence barrister for Dallas said the incident had been "unprovoked" and "wholly unnecessary".
He said Dallas had shown "genuine remorse" for the incident which could have been "much worse" but thankfully "no injuries" had resulted.
The lawyer said the defendant was "incredibly embarrassed".
The defence barrister said Dallas had been drinking from early that day and was "extremely intoxicated".
He said the defendant had very little memory of incident but accepts his guilt.
Judge Broderick told Dallas: "You could have hurt this man very badly. A full can of beer could do a lot of damage if if hit you on the head and all this person was trying to do was help you."
If injuries had been sustained the defendant, who had a limited record, would be facing jail, the judge said.
Judge Broderick ordered Dallas to do 75 hours of Community Service and put him on Probation for a year and told the defendant: "Consider yourself very fortunate you are not going to prison".
- Main picture: Ballymena Magistrates' Court.