A MAN told a court he wished to plead guilty for smashing a vodka bottle over his brother’s head saying he felt it would bring him bad luck if he accepted legal advice to contest the charges, before adding: “I love him to bits”.
Eoin Burns (21), admitted charges of assaulting his brother occasioning him actual bodily harm and possession of an offensive weapon – a bottle – with intent to cause assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
The defendant appeared at the Ballymena Magistrates Court, sitting in Antrim town, via video link from Maghaberry Prison.
The court heard Burns was in custody in connection with another matter, the details of which were not outlined to the court.
Regarding the current case, a defence barrister said he believed the defendant intended to plead not guilty to the charges but when the charges were put to the defendant Burns replied: “Guilty”.
The defence barrister told the defendant he had spoken to his solicitor and it was his understanding he was going to plead not guilty to the charges as “there was no statement from your brother”.
A court clerk asked the defendant if he was pleading guilty or not guilty and the reply came back “guilty”.
The defence barrister asked if the prison could provide him with a number so he could speak to the defendant.
However, District Judge Nigel Broderick said: “He seems pretty clear to me” and Burns said: “I am pretty clear”.
The judge said he was going to let the guilty plea stand.
The defendant said: “What happened between me and my brother, I feel guilty about it, I feel it would bring me bad luck if I was to plead not guilty”.
The defence lawyer said that in fairness to the defendant “that seems unequivocal” and the judge remarked: “Honesty is the best policy”.
The judge asked if it would need a pre-sentence report but the defendant said he would like sentenced to get it over and done with.
A prosecutor said at 6.30pm on May 15 this year police received a report of a male being struck over the head with a glass bottle at an address in Larne and the injured party, via police body worn footage, alleged his brother “hit him over the head with a vodka bottle” following a conversation about family members.
Burns’ brother had a large cut to his forehead and glass fragments in his hair and needed to go to hospital.
The defence barrister said there had been a “fallout between two brothers which got out of control”.
The defendant again interjected to say: “I just want to say me and my brother are very close, I love him to bits, I wouldn’t do anything like that again.”
Burns said “the jail” wouldn’t allow him to talk to his brother and he said he would like to be able to speak to his sibling and the defence lawyer said once sentencing took place there would be no bail conditions restricting him from contact.
Judge Broderick said: “Hitting anyone over the head with a bottle is a serious matter, brother or no brother”.
He said he would take into consideration the fact that the defendant may well have had a triable defence in law but that he was “taking the high moral ground” in entering a guilty plea contrary to legal advice and had expressed remorse.
Judge Broderick said the starting point for such an offence was at least six months in custody but factoring in the “unique circumstances” surrounding the plea he handed down a three months prison term to the defendant, who had an address at Abercorn Road, Derry/Londonderry.