Man jailed for workplace assault

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A Co Antrim man with a “history of volatile behaviour” was sent to prison today for a workplace assault which left a supervisor with four fractures.

Ryan Thomas Charnley, from Thornhill Drive in Ballyclare, was handed a sentence of two years and six months - and will spend half the term in prison with the remainder on licence.

Following a two-day trial held at Belfast Crown Court last month, 30-year-old Charnley was acquitted of causing grievous bodily harm to the supervisor with intent to cause him grievous bodily harm, but was found unanimously guilty on the lesser charge of causing grievous bodily harm.

During the trial, the jury was told the incident occurred in the control box on the factory floor of the steel manufacturing firm at Mallusk where both men worked, on the afternoon of July 27 last year.

At the time Charnley, a father of four, was employed as a labourer.

The day before the incident, the 54-year-old supervisor raised concerns with a colleague about productivity on the machine Charnley had been working on.

Giving evidence during the trial, the supervisor said on the day of the incident Charnley entered the control room and challenged him about what he had said to a colleague.

The supervisor said Charnley then launched an unprovoked attack on him during which he was punched to the ground, then kicked and stamped on.

This version of events was rejected by Charnley, who claimed he struck out at the supervisor in self-defence after the supervisor pushed him in the chest with such force and with such aggression that he dropped his lunchbag.

Charnley told the jury that he only punched the supervisor once, and that any injuries must have been sustained when the supervisor fell to the concrete floor.

An ambulance was called to the factory and the supervisor was taken to Antrim Area Hospital, where he was treated for four fractures, two of which required surgery. He sustained fractures to an eye socket, lower jaw, cheekbone and left arm.

During today’s sentencing, Judge Miller said the jury’s verdict indicated they accepted Charnley’s version of events, but they felt his actions were disproportionate and went above reasonable self-defence.

Pointing out that the Co Antrim man came before the court with 29 previous convictions, Judge Miller said Charnley had a “history of volatile behaviour.”

Judge Miller also spoke of the significant and lasting injuries caused to the supervisor by Charnley’s “pre-emptive blow”, adding Charnley “could have turned and left the room but he didn’t ... instead there was an act of significant violence.”