Men jailed after racist attack

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Lagan Towpath

Thomas David Finn (22), from Linen Court, Linenhall Street, Armagh, was sentenced to 14 months then the same period on supervised licence.

Scott Cecil McKeown (20), of Young Street in Lisburn, was jailed for nine months with a further 15 months on licence.

They were both sentenced for the unprovoked attack on Tonderai Msonza, who was set upon at the towpath at around 3.30pm on Saturday May 24, 2014.

The victim said Finn passed him then “struck him to the right side of the face with a closed fist” and he then suffered a total of three blows.

Finn shouted: “N*****, we are going to kill you.”

As the victim attempted to flee he pulled a branch from a tree to defend himself.

He eventually ran to a bar at Bridge Street, Lisburn, for safety only to be pursued and struck with a stick.

He told police he heard his attackers shout: “N*****, we are going to beat you up.”

The victim was hit a second time before seeking cover in the bar.

He was treated in hospital for minor injuries.

A lawyer for McKeown told Judge Patrick Lynch: “This is a bad case of racism - an unwarranted and unprovoked attack.

“But this defendant would have walked on past if his co-accused had not struck out.”

A barrister for Finn described the attack as “completely reprehensible” and said the defendant had recently been found to suffer from ADHD, Asperger Syndrome and post-traumatic distress disorder.

Both men pleaded guilty to charges of behaviour intending or likely to stir up hatred, threats to kill their victim and assaulting him.

Finn, who was not long out of prison following another assault, also admitted assaulting a police officer.