Judge in Ballymena says Simon Community staff deserve protection of the courts

Judge in Ballymena says Simon Community staff deserve protection of the courts

A JUDGE in Ballymena has praised the work of groups like the Simon Community and said their staff deserve to be protected by the courts.

Deputy District Judge Chris Holmes was speaking as Cameron Tate (23), of no fixed abode in Ballymena, pleaded guilty to assaulting two staff members; attempting to damage property and making a threat to damage property at the Simon Community facility at Trostan Avenue in Ballymena.

Ballymena Magistrates' Court heard the defendant had been intoxicated at the Simon Community on March 5 this year.

Around 11pm he left his room at the premises and was knocking on other resident's doors "demanding food and cigarettes".

He then lunged towards the staff members - a male and female - as they attempted to bring him back to his room "putting them in fear that they would be assaulted".

Staff went to an office and Tate started to punch he office window and the staff members feared the window would break.

When police spoke to the defendant he said he would "wreck" his room and break windows.

He also stole a bottle of wine worth £7.50 from Tesco Express in Larne on March 15 this year.

A defence lawyer said the defendant had an "ongoing alcohol issue" and was "living a nomadic lifestyle".

She said he has "now burnt his bridges with the Simon Community".

Judge Holmes deferred sentencing for a year to see if the defendant could keep out of trouble.

He told the defendant he could not behave in such a fashion towards anybody but especially "people who are going out of their way to help people in the worst possible situations and going out of their way to do a really decent job".

Judge Holmes added: "The people in the Simon Community of all the 'emergency services' deserve protection of the courts as all 'emergency' workers will get".

He accepted the assaults were "technical" and added: "But it is just not on".