Shoplifter abused and spat at staff in ‘ugly’ incident

Judge's court wig and hammer or gavel
Judge's court wig and hammer or gavel

During a shoplifting incident at Tesco in Lisburn a 25-year-old man spat in the face of a member of staff and subjected him to racist and religious insults.

And while in custody he scooped excrement from the toilet to smear in his cell.

Conor Conway, Flush Park, Lisburn, appeared for sentencing last Wednesday at Craigavon Magistrates Court for a series of offences.

A six month prison term was imposed for making a threat to kill a man while he was sentenced to four months for assaulting the same man and the theft of a bottle of spirits and Smirnoff pouches, valued at £43.

He was given three months for disorderly behaviour, damaging a police cell and possession of a class B, schedule 2, drug, Butylone. All the sentences are to run concurrently, making a total of six months in prison.

The court heard that on February 4 last year at 10.28pm police were called to Tesco at Bentrim Road in Lisburn to deal with a shoplifter.

Conway had taken items and left the store without paying for them. When he was approached by staff outside the store he became aggressive and grabbed the bottle as if he was going to use it as a weapon.

Conway pushed a member of staff, spat in his face and called him a ‘loyalist c—t’ and a ‘Paki c—t’.

When police arrived he told them he hoped ‘you end up like Ronan Kerr’ and called them ‘black b—ds’.

On his way to Musgrave police station police noticed he was trying to conceal something down the rear of his trousers. This turned out to be white powder and more was found when he was strip searched. While in custody he smeared excrement on the cell.

A public prosecutor indicated to the court that the case was considered to be a hate crime. Sentencing had been adjourned from a previous court so that a pre-sentence report could be obtained.

A barrister representing Conway said the defendant realised how unacceptable his behaviour was and the offences were committed against a background of alcohol and drug misuse. He added that his client simply did not recall any of what was said.

The lawyer added that what was said was ‘ugly and graphic.’

He explained that his client knew he was in a precarious position and asked the court to consider a community disposal so that he could get counselling.

The lawyer added the court could also consider leaving something hanging over the defendant’s head.

District Judge, Mr Mervyn Bates, said he heard the summary of the facts with ‘growing alarm.’ He added that what Conway had done was ‘totally unacceptable and outside the Pale’.

Judge Bates said these were serious offences which were aggravated by hatred and hostility involving race and religion. Later in the court his barrister applied for bail to appeal against the sentences and for the defendant to be released pending appeal.

Judge Bates granted bail for appeal and released Conway on his own bail of £500 with the conditions that he resided at Flush Park and had no contact with the injured party.