It also emerged that as a result of his criminal ‘misadventure’ he suffered a fractured skull and is now left needing treatment for a brain injury.
As revealed by
Sunday World last December, the 51-year-old from Killycavan Court, Dungannon was chased and caught by the barefoot owner of the sports car he’d just vandalised while wearing a balaclava.
When confronted by our reporter two months ago, he snorted: “I don’t want to comment on the case, but I can tell you the police are an absolute disgrace for the way they’ve handled this.”
Having been convicted of criminal damage and having the hatchet as a weapon in public, a judge had told him he must turn up with the full amount to pay for the repairs after he used the axe to split open the roof of a BMW M4 car in a bizarre attack – otherwise he’d be going to jail.
This week, having been given several chances by the judge to improve on the £500 he’d offered to pay for damages, the judge was true to her word and jailed Stevenson for four months, though he was released to appeal the sentence.
Last year he’d contested a charge of possessing an offensive weapon but admitted criminal damage after he drove more than 10 miles from his home in Dungannon to the scene of the attack in Armagh.
In the bizarre incident Stevenson, wearing a balaclava, was chased, fell over a six-foot wall injuring himself badly and it was reported he spent three weeks in hospital.
When he came around in a Belfast hospital he told cops he’d been chased and beaten by a group of men after falling over a high wall.
He’d been caught in the act by the owner of the luxury sports car who wasn’t wearing any footwear and still managed to chase down the hatchet-wielding thug and detain him.
A struggle ensued and the father managed to get the hatchet from Stevenson and remove the balaclava.
At a previous hearing a defence barrister told Armagh Magistrates Court Stevenson already suffered from a number of medical conditions, and as a consequence of this incident, “when the injured parties caught up with him, they inflicted a certain head injury. This resulted in a fractured skull and he has been receiving treatment for an acquired brain injury.”
Due to this, it was claimed Stevenson “cannot raise the £1,500 compensation, although does have £500. He has instructed me faithfully he will discharge the balance if the court were to give him an opportunity.”
Pointing out his client has no previous convictions, the defence added: “There’s some sort of racist element to what he did in a misguided response to slurs his family were having visited on them. That doesn’t excuse the issue but it gives some degree of context. He did what he now accepts was a totally foolhardy, stupid, irresponsible action.”
Judge Bernie Kelly said if he paid in full he could avoid jail, but pointed out the incident occurred over a year beforehand and having accepted guilt, Stevenson had time to gather the funds.
The defence highlighted Stevenson’s brain injury, the dominant feature of which was to obtain treatment to allow him to function, “somewhere close to what he was before the incident.”
“Given his particular circumstances I ask the court to stretch from normal practice and give my client an opportunity.”
Judge Kelly decided to allow one final opportunity, adjourning the case for six weeks.
However, on return to court this week, the defence advised the financial position remained at £500.
Having run out of patience, Judge Kelly told Stevenson: “For reasons I don’t understand, you carried out this attack over a year ago, knowing you shouldn’t have done it, and you didn’t bother in all that time to gather the money due to the injured party. There’s only one penalty I can impose.”
We spoke to one man in Lisanally Gardens who had been struck with the hatchet during the shocking incident.
He didn’t want to be identified but he explained there had been neighbour issues for some time in the area and he said the police had allowed things to escalate.
However, he said he was at a loss as to why Stevenson, who didn’t live anywhere near the area, travelled from Dungannon to launch an attack.
“I was hit on my hand with the hatchet and the blood was pouring out,” the man explained. “It was a mad incident, but things have been going on round here for ages now.
“I don’t know Andrew Stevenson and I don’t know why he came here armed with a hatchet to attack the car.
“I hope this is the end of it. I’ve lived here all my life and we just want to live in peace. My fear is this won’t be the end of it.”