A 28-YEAR-OLD man who blinded a Syrian refugee

A 28-YEAR-OLD man who blinded a Syrian refugee in his right eye after glassing him for no reason, later making a "ham-fisted attempt" to intimidate or bribe him, has been jailed for two years.

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Judge Neil Rafferty QC told Deaglan Gerard Bassett, while he accepted his attack was not racially motivated, it had underlying tones of substance and alcohol abuse, "causing him to spiral off the right path".

However, the Belfast Crown Court judge added that a deterrent sentence was called for given it was an unprovoked attack in which a weapon was used to cause high harm injury.

A second 28-year-old man, James Patrick Joseph Kieron O'Boyle, who admitted involvement in the intimidation of the victim, was jailed with him. However, O'Boyle's main sentence was for an unrelated aggravated burglary for which he was given a 18 months behind bars.

But his sentence will not come into effect until at least July next, as he is currently serving the remainder of a previous sentence which he had previously breached.

Prosecution counsel Kate McKay told the court that on August 4, 2018 the injured party had given a lift to Bassett and two women. Conversation between them had initially been friendly, and when he eventually let them off on the Ormeau Road in the early hours of the morning, they had thanked him.

Ms McKay said a short time later Bassett called on the injured party to 'wait' and went to him, putting his arm around his shoulder. However, instead of telling him anything, smashed a glass in his face, as a result of which he lost his sight in his right eye.

The lawyer added that in July the following year, on two different occasions, the injured party was approached by O'Boyle who offered him between two and five thousand pounds to drop the case against Bassett, with the veiled threat to make problems for him, if he did not. On both occasions O'Boyle was pictured in Bassett's company, once getting into his car, and then going to his home.

The court then heard that a week after the intimidation, O'Boyle, who has 82 previous convictions, was arrested and questioned about an aggravated burglary the previous month.

A lawyer for Bassett described what occurred as a "split second decision" for which he had shown remorse for what he had done.

A lawyer for O'Boyle said reports on his client made for "sad reading" and given his drug abuse and growing criminal record, had spent considerable time in custody.