Judge warns of dangers of people being killed when knives brought to fights

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A judge in Coleraine has warned about the dangers of people being killed when knives are brought to fights on local streets.

District Judge Liam McNally was speaking at Coleraine Magistrates Court on Monday, February 20 where he jailed a Ballymoney man for four months.

Adrian Lee McGonigle (22), of Margaret Avenue, had originally been given 120 hours Community Service in 2015 for possessing an offensive weapon in a public place.

However, he was back in court on February 20 for breaching the Order by failing to report a change of address. He also failed to report as instructed by a supervising officer on three occasions last year.

Revoking the Order and replacing it with the prison term, the judge told McGonigle: “This is a serious matter. You were involved in a fight in the street, you had a knife. It’s well known that fights and people with knives lead to serious injuries or loss of life.”

The judge said the prison term was to “mark my aversion to anyone engaging in a fight on the streets with a knife”.

McGonigle had bail fixed for appeal

At the same court in 2015 it was heard McGonigle had an eight inch serrated knife - at Buskin Way in Coleraine’s Heights area in August that year.

A prosecutor told the previous hearing police received a report of a disturbance involving a large group of young people fighting in the Cafe Lane area of Ballymoney and a person had a knife but when officers arrived the group had dispersed.

Later a car was searched in The Heights area of Coleraine and McGonigle said he had taken the knife from a property in Ballymoney and placed it in the car and made full admissions.

Judge McNally told the court in 2015 it was a serious offence for which custody was an option.

Defence barrister Francis Rafferty told the 2015 hearing McGonigle “was in bad company on the night in question” and that he had tried to stop another person from confronting others but then felt “it was his duty as a friend” to provide back-up.

Mr Rafferty said it seemed to be “a bit of bravado from behind closed doors” but that thankfully the knife was not used.

Mr Rafferty said in 2015 his client was no longer in contact with the same people.