A man who left behind a ‘spectacular’ trail of destruction in Larne after taking a fire engine has been ordered to do 100 hours of unpaid work for a new offence of assaulting his sister’s partner.
Ross Clarke (21), with an address at Hampton Crescent in Larne, appeared at Ballymena Magistrates Court on Thursday.
He previously pleaded guilty to a charge of assault which happened on March 11 this year.
A prosecutor said Clarke was in his sister’s home when she had an altercation with her partner and then there was a scuffle between the man and the defendant.
The lawyer said Clarke grabbed the man “by the throat” and punched him in the face before leaving.
Defence solicitor Neal McAllister said his client said he was “defending his sister”.
He said the defendant, who has learning difficulties, had one major set of convictions connected to a “spectacular” incident in Larne a few years ago involving a fire engine.
Last October at Antrim Crown Court, Clarke was put on Probation for two years; ordered to do 100 hours of unpaid work and was banned from driving for five years after he took a fire engine on a drunken spree of destruction through Larne.
At the Crown Court last year, Judge Desmond Marrinan said although his crimes had crossed the custodial threshold, given Clarke’s highly exceptional and difficult background he was prepared to take the exceptional step in freeing him on the combination order.
However, the judge also told Clarke that given the multiple collisions and near misses he had, it was only “by the grace of God” that he was “not looking at a tragedy, or series of tragedies if things had gone wrong”.
Clarke had admitted a total of 20 charges including the aggravated taking of the engine and damaging the fire station at Agnew Street in Larne.
His other crimes included criminal damage to six houses, a shop doorway, nine vehicles, including the fire engine, attempted burglary, dangerous driving, driving without insurance, and failing to report, stop, or remain at the scene of an accident.
Defence QC Jackie Orr had told the Crown Court last year a remorseful Clarke was a “vulnerable adult, easily manipulated by others”.
She also said that since that “night of sheer madness”, Clarke had gone on to become a recipient of a Duke of Edinburgh Gold award, and was “someone who has changed his life completely”.