Cloughmills man gets suspended sentence for racial abuse

Ballymena Courthouse. INBT02-213AC
Ballymena Courthouse. INBT02-213AC

A man has been given a suspended sentence for racial abuse after getting drunk on the first anniversary of the death of his cousin in an horrific road traffic collision.

Eight-year-old Adam Gilmour was killed on November 11, 2014, as he walked to school with his mother and five siblings and they were struck by a car on the Loughill Road at Cloughmills.

On the anniversary of the death, instead of going to the grave with the rest of his family, 21-year-old Steven Johnstone of Fenton Park, Cloughmills, got drunk in Ballymena and called a male a “P-ki b-----d”, Ballymena Magistrates Court heard.

A prosecutor said the incident was racially motivated and when cautioned Johnstone told police: “That person should not be in this country”. The incident happened on November 11, 2015, in the centre of Ballymena.

Defence solicitor Emma McCann said her client has an “IQ of a twelve-year-old” and the incident happened on the first anniversary of the death of Johnstone’s cousin in a tragic road accident in Cloughmills.

She said there was no logic to the incident and said the family had all intended to go to the family grave but Johnstone left and took drink.

District Judge Des Perry said he could understand the grief but how that turned into anger and led to the abuse “is beyond me”.

Johnstone was given three months in jail, suspended for 18 months, and he was told if he re-offends it is very likely he will end up going to jail.