08 Aug 2022

Derry man who assaulted vulnerable and disabled neighbour with his own walking stick in 'devastating attack' sentenced to six and a half years

A man who left his victim lying in his own flat covered in blood after he had assaulted him has been jailed for six and a half years. Mark Howie (43) of Sperrin Park in Derry admitted inflicting grievous bodily harm on Sydney Olphert with intent on a date between March 31 and April 3, 2017. Derry Crown Court heard that the victim had subsequently died but that was unrelated to the assault. The court heard that the victim lived in a flat on his own and Howie lived above him. On April 1 2017 a friend of Olphert's called to have a drink with him. Howie was in the flat and they all had a few drinks then a verbal argument broke out between the victim and the defendant over a mobile phone. Olphert was conveyed to hospital and found to have a compression fractures to his vertebrae, multiple fractures in his face, lacerations to his eye, and other injuries. When he arrested, Howie claimed that the victim had attacked him with his walking stick. Judge Philip Babington said that photographs taken at the scene 'are unfortunately testimony to the ferocity of the attack.' The court was told the crime was aggravated by the fact the victim was vulnerable, attacked in his own home, a weapon used and no attempt made to offer assistance. Howie has 74 previous convictions and has spent 15 of his life in prison and Judge Babington said if he wanted to stay out of prison he had to curb his alcohol. Describing the incident as 'a devastating attack on Mr Olphert which the judge said it must have lasted 'for some period of time.' Howie was sentenced to six and a half years in prison with half to be spent in custody.

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