When three guards tried to drag Stephen Moore away from the unconscious alleged child killer, ‘he continued with the sustained attack’
Stephen Moore was jailed and ordered to spend three years on licence, while co-accused Robert Robinson walked free with a suspended sentence.
The judge praised staff at Maghaberry Prison for the speed with which they responded to help save the victim, Darren Armstrong, from more serious injury in August last year.
Even when three guards tried to drag Moore away from the unconscious alleged child killer, “he continued with the sustained attack”.
The 38-year-old, from Oakley Street in Belfast, admitted grievous bodily harm. Robinson (35), from Kilbride Gardens in Antrim, admitted actual bodily harm.
At the time of the attack, Armstrong (32), from Ashbeg Grove in Dungannon, was in custody charged with the murder of two-year-old Ali Jayden Doyle.
The little girl’s mother, 25-year-old Jade Dempsey, who is originally from Dublin but lives on Sycamore Drive in Dungannon, has been charged with causing or allowing her death.
Craigavon Crown Court was told that Armstrong was attacked after he left the jail landing for a legal meeting.
As he left, Moore told him “see you soon” before launching into the beating when he returned.
As the alleged child killer walked along a corridor, the defendant punched him several times and Armstrong was shoved into a room.
CCTV footage of the attack showed Moore stamping on the head of his victim at least 10 times.
It also showed prison guards sprinting down the corridor and into the room, with Moore continuing to attack his unconscious victim until he was dragged away, and even trying to lash out after that.
Armstrong was left with a broken jaw that required surgery to insert a plate and screws.
When he was interviewed by police, Moore admitted that he set out to hurt his victim “as much as he could”.
He told cops “he had thought about it for two weeks beforehand and that he believed it was his last chance to get him” because he thought there was a chance Armstrong would be released on bail.
The prosecution said that Robinson’s admission to causing actual bodily harm was on the basis that he played a lesser role in the attack and had not known what was about to unfold.
The court was told Moore had been assessed as a dangerous offender.
It also was argued that the premeditated nature of the attack was a aggravating feature of the case, as well as his criminal record, which includes 58 previous convictions, among them assault and making a threat to kill.
But a defence lawyer told the hearing that Moore was “entitled to significant credit” for his guilty plea.
They added that he had a traumatic background, numerous “unresolved issues” and needed help.
Those issues include losing a number of fingers and toes to meningitis when he was a teenager and, later, the break-up of his marriage.
Moore’s lawyer said his client accepted “it was not up to him to act as judge, jury and executioner” when he carried out the frenzied attack.
He told the hearing: “He should not have done what he did, there’s no doubt about that. That’s what the law is for and that’s what prisons are for. He accepts that.
“However, there are underlying issues. Clearly, he is a man who needs rehabilitation and needs assistance.”
Jailing Moore, the judge said it was clear that the attack was premeditated.
They added that while he may have had his reasons for doing it, those “can in no way be any excuse”.
Co-accused Robinson walked free after his 15-month sentence was suspended for three years.