Judge’s credit for man who has ‘transformed’

Court
Court

A Judge hopes the transformation of a former criminal now associated with the ‘Green Pastures’ Church near Ballymena will be an ‘example’ to others.

District Judge Peter King was speaking at Ballymena Magistrates Court where David Samuel Currell (40), with an address in the Toomebridge area, appeared for sentencing for assaulting three police officers.

A prosecutor said police attended Currell’s former address in Glenarm and the defendant began struggling in the hall and had to be handcuffed and have leg restraints applied.

While being taken away in a police vehicle he headbutted and attempted to bite an officer and made “vile” comments.

He was spitting and headbutted another officer on the cheek during the incident which happened in February, 2014.

During a police interview, the defendant admitted he had been in an “altercation” but claimed he was assaulted and had his face stood upon.

Currell had over 40 previous convictions and defence barrister Neil Moore said there had been a “complete change in his lifestyle”.

He said sentencing in the case had been deferred to see if Currell would “continue in his new found light” with the Green Pastures Church.

Mr Moore said an updated reference from the church painted the defendant in a “completely different light” to his past offending.

The defendant, said his lawyer, had shown remorse and was “disgusted” at his previous behaviour.

Mr Moore said Currell has transformed and has “addressed all demons in his past” and the “abhorrent behaviour has not been repeated”.

At a previous court sitting, Mr Moore said Currell was “undertaking work in the Christian community and sees a devotion for his life”.

Mr Moore said Currell was once “put out” of his home in Larne and, concerned about further attacks, had undergone a “transformation” in his life.

He said Currell’s convictions included drug cultivation.

District Judge Peter King said at the earlier hearing there were “no atheists in foxholes” as he noted the police assault offences were in breach of a previous Crown Court suspended sentence.

Judge King said he had two very stark documents in front of him, one which included a comment Currell made to a police officer for which, alone, he deserved to be sent to jail.

On the other hand, the judge said he had a letter from a pastor which painted a very different picture.

Judge King told the earlier court he would defer sentence to see if “the expectations of the pastor” were borne out.

He had told Currell if there was any more offending he could potentially go to prison for at least five months.

Back at the court this week, Judge King told Currell he didn’t know what “demons” the defendant was previously struggling with but he now presented as someone who is “clearly extremely well thought of in the local community” where he was “providing a service to the community”.

He hoped Currell’s case could “act as an example” to others.

The judge said anybody who behaved as the defendant had done with police was at risk of going to jail but he said he would refer the suspended sentence back to the Crown Court.

He ordered Currell to do 200 hours Community Service.