Co Down wine thief and assailant ‘was in state of intoxication’

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A marketing manager who attacked two men and stole wine from a Belfast off-licence has been given a four-month suspended jail term.

Lewis McCourt punched a customer inside the shop before leaving another victim with a split lip and suspected broken finger, prosecutors said.

The 22-year-old, of Seapatrick Road in Banbridge, Co Down, was convicted of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, common assault and two counts of theft.

Belfast Magistrates’ Court heard police went to a Winemark branch on the city’s Stranmillis Road after staff activated the alarm system on July 9 last year.

CCTV footage showed McCourt had entered the store, lift two bottles of wine and leave without paying.

Before exiting he was involved in an altercation with a customer, pushing and punching him on the face.

Outside the shop he exchanged blows with another man, according to a Crown lawyer.

She added: “The member of the public received a split lip, bruising to the face and a suspected broken finger.”

Footage from the off-licence also revealed McCourt had stolen another two bottles of wine the same day.

Defence solicitor Kevin McDonnell acknowledged: “It’s an unpleasant set of circumstances.”

Mr McDonnell said his client had arrived in Belfast and started drinking early on the day of the offences.

“By midday he was in a state of intoxication,” the lawyer told the court.

“He’s deeply ashamed and embarrassed by his actions; he had just commenced his job as a marketing manager.”

Imposing a four-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, District Judge Fiona Bagnall also ordered him to pay a total of £275 in compensation.