Man who breached Community Service Order he received for ‘homophobic hate crime’ is given a jail warning

Ballymena Courthouse6
Ballymena Courthouse

A Ballymena man who was, last summer, ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work after being convicted of a “homophobic hate crime”, has been back in court for breaching his Community Service Order.

James McDowell (26), of Lanntara, was at Ballymena Magistrates Court on Thursday where District Judge Nigel Broderick adjourned sentencing until the end of September.

The judge said if there were any slip-ups he would have no hesitation in sending the defendant to prison.

Judge Broderick noted the Community Service was given last August for a “hate crime” when McDowell “probably should have gone to custody”.

Ballymena Court, last August, heard that McDowell launched a tirade of abuse towards two men in, what was described by a prosecutor, as a “homophobic hate crime”.

He was sentenced last year on charges of assaulting a man and damaging the front door of his property.

A prosecutor had said that in April 2017 two men were approached by McDowell who called them names including “faggots” and “bum boys”.

The lawyer said the assault charge was a technical assault after McDowell threatened to “smash” in the face of one of the men.

The defendant followed the men and continued to dish out verbal abuse and caused damage to a front door.

Defence barrister Andrew Moriarty told the court last August his client’s actions had their “roots in paranoia” as he thought the men were staring at him.

Added the lawyer: “He is categorically not a homophobe, that is not the sort of person who he is, that is something he is adamant about”.

Mr Moriarty said McDowell, who had a record, was remorseful.

At last year’s court, then District Judge Peter King, said it was a “homophobic hate crime”.

He noted the defendant had 64 previous convictions but said he was not going to send him to prison because of a previous plea of guilty and a “relatively positive” pre-sentence report and instead ordered Community Service.

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