Teenager admits his part in ‘vicious sectarian attack’ on young Catholic

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A former pupil at an integrated Belfast school was part of a “mob” who carried out a “heinous sectarian attack” on a Catholic teenager who attended the same school.

Ryan Wood (18), of Gunnell Hill, off Whitewell Road in north Belfast, was given 80 hours community service after he pleaded guilty to assaulting the 16-year-old boy, occasioning him actual bodily harm.

Belfast Crown Court heard that Wood was part of a gang of five Protestant teenagers who “hunted down their quarry”, kicked him, “jumped on him’’ and then beat him with metal poles almost two years ago.

Wood and his victim were both pupils at Hazelwood Integrated College.

Prosecution counsel Peter Magill said the “sectarian attack” on March 27, 2015 was captured on CCTV near the M2 at Arthur Road.

He told Judge Patricia Smyth that Wood and four males were observed on CCTV. One was carrying a hammer, while Wood and some of the others were carrying metal bars.

“When they saw their victim, they ran towards him and he then runs away. He was chased and caught and assaulted by the five males, kicked to the ground and he was punched,” explained Mr Magill.

“This defendant had a metal pole and struck the victim first to the shoulder and then two blows to the body. He was also repeatedly kicked by the others, with one person jumping on his body.

“Fortunately, unlike others who have been victims of similar attacks, the injured party in this case did not suffer serious injuries.”

Mr Magill said that it wasn’t until a year later that Wood was arrested when the injured party viewed the CCTV footage and identified him as one of his attackers.

“This defendant was not a ringleader but was part of the gang. Each one of these young men are equally responsible for their roles in this attack.

“There was kicking, there was punching, jumping and stamping on him. And this defendant had a metal pole. It was clearly a joint venture.”

He added that a pre sentence report expressed the hope that Wood had “learned his lesson’’ and that his mother had taken a “very firm view” of her son’s offending behaviour.

Defence solicitor Paul Farrell said that after leaving school with no qualifications, Wood lacked “structure in his life” and fell into an “anti-social element”.

But he said Wood now had an opportunity for “structure and purpose in his life”.

Passing sentence Judge Patricia Smyth told Wood: “This was a vicious sectarian attack carried out by a mob and you were part of that mob.”