New figures reveal assaults trend, as local judge hits out
ALMOST 200 people have been convicted of assault in Banbridge Magistrates’ Court in the past five years - a trend especially in Banbridge town itself according to one local judge.
The area’s District Judge Paul Copeland spoke out on the subject after convicting a 22-year-old for punching someone in the face in what was accepted to be an unprovoked attack in Church Square on July 12 this year.
After fining the defendant £500 last month Mr Copeland said, “This casual thuggery at the end of an evening’s drinking is all too common on the streets of Banbridge.”
Now, figures obtained by the Leader show just how common the trend is, with 32 people convicted at Banbridge Magistrates’ Court last year alone.
The figure peaked a year earlier in 2010, with 52 people facing assault charges.
One case in 2009 saw an early morning assault in Church Square recalled in court by police who said they saw the 19-year-old defendant punch another man “three or four times around the head”.
In 2010 a case came before the court in which a 21-year-old assaulted a man following an earlier assault. The incident took place outside one of the town’s nightclubs, and the defendant was bound over to keep the peace.
The Courts and Tribunals Service, who extracted the figures, said there is a range of offences under the umbrella term ‘assault’, including common assault and assault causing Actual Bodily Harm.
A case in 2010 saw an ex-soldier placed on probation and fined £1,000 for punching his then partner in the head and kicking her.
Last year the Leader reported that assaults had risen by almost a quarter according to figures released to the District Policing Partnership.
The figures showed that assault and anti-social behaviour remained two areas where the number of recorded crimes had increased in relation to the same period the year before.
Incidents of anti-social behaviour had risen by 10 per cent on last year but Chief Inspector Ken Mawhinney said it was an issue local police were continuing to take a focused approach towards.
Figures released by the courts service for the past five years also revealed that the number of people from the Banbridge area convicted of assault, in either Magistrates’ or Crown Court has increased from 45 in 2007 to 50 last year.
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