Inmate spat in prison officer’s face when request for lighter fuel was not immediately acted upon

Magilligan Prison. Picture - Google Maps

AN INMATE at Magilligan Jail who asked to get lighter fuel then spat through a cell door hatch into the face of a prison officer after earlier being told he would have to wait a short time, Coleraine Magistrates Court heard.

Martin McDonagh (38), with an address listed as Maghaberry Prison, had pressed a call alarm at 7am on August 12 last year in a cell at Magilligan and was told it could be about ten minutes as a night shift was coming to an end.

When a prison officer went to the cell at 7.15am and opened the door hatch McDonagh was “upset and aggressive” and “roaring and shouting” about having to wait and when the officer took the lighter the defendant spat through the hatch.

He spat a second time but it did not connect and when McDonagh stuck his hand and fingers through the hatch the prison officer closed it causing a “small nick”.

The defendant, who pleaded guilty to a charge of common assault, said at the time he was “feeling very low”.

A defence barrister said the defendant was serving a three and a half year sentence and is due to be released in June and is eligible for parole in April.

The lawyer said McDonagh “understands how disgusting it is to spit on somebody”.

The barrister added: “He didn’t intend to do that but he accepts his spit did end up where it did”.

The defendant was given a three months jail sentence, suspended for 18 months.

District Judge Peter King said aggravating factor was that the attack took place on a prison officer “going about his lawful duty”.

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