Judge warns man who had knife in Ballymena town centre not to view suspended sentence as ‘lenient’

A JUDGE warned a man who was disorderly and had a knife in Ballymena town centre not to see a suspended sentence as “lenient” as he faces jail if he returns to court.

Keith Balmer (27), with an address listed as Dunclug Gardens in the town, was at Ballymena Magistrates Court on Thursday for sentencing on charges of possessing a knife at Bridge Street.

He was also disorderly when he shouted and swore and resisted a police officer on November 22 last year.

The court heard CCTV at a police custody suite showed a knife – with a three-inch blade – fell from the defendant’s person.

Defence barrister Stephen Law said the defendant had struggled with addiction to alcohol and when sober is a “very amenable, affable, young man”.

He said the defendant had been off drink for three weeks and has distanced himself from “street drinkers”.

District Judge Nigel Broderick said the defendant’s record was “very depressing” but said there was a “glimmer of hope” in a Probation report which showed he now had his “own accommodation”.

The judge said “not without some hesitation” he was suspending a four months prison term for a year.

He said some people sometimes believed that meant they had got away lightly but he said a suspended term should not be seen as lenient as a return to court could mean jail.

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