A JUDGE warned a man, who a court heard is a personal trainer who is setting up a gym, of the dangers of so-called "one punch" attacks.
Lee Balmer (32), of Knockeen Road in Ballymena, was sentenced on a charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm in relation to an incident at a bar in the town centre.
The defendant, who had a previous record, was given a four months prison term, suspended for two years.
A prosecutor said a man said he was assaulted by Balmer who punched him once to the side of his face as he walked out of the bar on Saturday June 2, 2018.
The man said the punch caused him to fall to the ground, "suffering injuries".
Police noticed redness to his cheek; a "scratch" to the side of his neck and a cut to the back of his head which required first aid by police, needing three staples.
A defence barrister said it was a "particularly disappointing" incident for the defendant who was self-employed and "setting up a gym business as a personal trainer and he hasn't been in trouble since 2012."
The lawyer told Ballymena Magistrates' Court: "Unfortunately on this occasion there had been animosity between the two of them in that he had paid for a wedding video and photographs which never materialised".
The barrister added that had been "rumbling on" by email and text for some time and following a "chance encounter" the defendant "lost his temper and punched him once".
The lawyer said the defendant "immediately picked him up off the ground".
The barrister said Balmer accepts "this type of behaviour is totally unacceptable".
District Judge Nigel Broderick told the defendant: "Have you ever heard of, sometimes referred to in the media as, a one punch case where somebody throws one punch; the victim falls to the ground and either because of the punch or the contact with the ground that there is a terrible fatality and the victim then dies?
"That is a pretty regular occurrence unfortunately and this is a classic example of something that could have ended up in a murder or manslaughter case very easily.
"Thankfully the victim made a full recovery but you should reflect the next time you are involved in some altercation, don't lift your fists because it could result in a life-changing experience not just for you but for the victim as well".
The judge handed down a suspended sentence which he hoped would act as an incentive for Balmer not to re-offend, and also ordered the defendant to pay the victim £500 compensation.