Man ‘bit­ten by snake’ is jailed af­ter fail­ing to do his com­mu­nity ser­vice

Belfast Telegraph - - NEWS - BY NEVIN FAR­RELL

A BAL­LY­MENA man who claimed be­ing bit­ten by a snake meant he could not com­plete com­mu­nity ser­vice has been given an eight-month prison term — but was re­leased pend­ing ap­peal.

Scott Balmer (19), of Dou­glas Ter­race, failed to turn up to do un­paid work ear­lier this year and when he ap­peared at Bal­ly­mena Mag­is­trates Court on Thurs­day he pleaded guilty to two breaches.

He had been given 200 hours com­mu­nity ser­vice in March this year for a wound­ing of­fence,

De­fence bar­ris­ter Stephen Law told the court his client had given an un­usual rea­son for miss­ing com­mu­nity ser­vice.

“He was bit­ten by a snake and needed to at­tend his GP,” said the lawyer.

The lawyer added that it was “out­ra­geous” for the de­fen­dant to come out with a claim that he was bit­ten by a rep­tile but he said his client’s life­style had been “chaotic” as he had ef­fec­tively been home­less and was “sofa surf­ing”.

Mr Law added: “It was very hard to have the struc­ture to at­tend com­mu­nity ser­vice when you are con­stantly think­ing where you are go­ing to stay that night.”

Re­gard­ing the wound­ing charge,

Ap­peal: Scott Balmer

Mr Law said there had been an “in­ter­ven­tion” and an­other young man was the “in­sti­ga­tor”.

The bar­ris­ter said Balmer has “now got things to­gether” and wants to make amends and he asked the court to put his client to the test to see if he could com­plete his com­mu­nity ser­vice.

District Judge Peter King told Balmer: “I’m not sure you fully un­der­stand the po­si­tion you have put your­self in.”

From the dock, Balmer replied “Huh?” be­fore he re­voked the com­mu­nity ser­vice or­der and re­placed it with eight months in cus­tody.

Mr Law said his client wished to ap­peal and was re­leased on his own bail of £500.

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