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Bad medicine Sectarian thug escapes jail over 'Covid cough' into policeman's face

Arrested and cautioned, the lawyer told the court White “coughed directly into the face of the police officer from about six inches.”

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Aaron White

Aaron White

Aaron White

A sectarian thug once jailed for 22 years for the attempted murder of a Catholic man narrowly escaped going to jail today after he admitted coughing “directly” into a police officer’s face.

Ordering Aaron Thomas White to complete 18 months on probation, Judge Richard Greene QC told the 49-year-old “this was an absolutely outrageous set of offences and behaviour, especially in the present climate.”

“The emergency services attend to help and to keep us all safe,” said the judge, adding that people who act “whether through alcohol….or indeed pure badness as you did, are not only a disgrace but also put those who are there to help at significant risk.”

White, who had admitted offences of disorderly behaviour, assaulting and resisting police, had initially been jailed for four months but he appealed that tariff at Antrim County Appeal Court today where a prosecuting lawyer outlined how police intervened when they saw White in a “verbal altercation” in McDonald’s car park in Ballymena.

With an order to go home White, from Lettercreeve in Ballymena, began to walk away but hurled abuse at passing motorists on the Galgorm Road and when officers arrested him, he grabbed an officer in an effort to pull him down and kicked another one in the leg.

Arrested and cautioned, the lawyer told the court White “coughed directly into the face of the police officer from about six inches.”

Lodging a plea in mitigation, defence counsel Stephen Law conceded that White “has a serious record, I have to accept that.”

In 2007 White was handed a 22 year sentence for the attempted murder of a Catholic man arising from an incident in October 2003.

In that case, described as an unprovoked and “viciously sectarian” attack White, his brother Neil and another man who was never caught, attacked the victim with a kitchen knife, a saucepan and used a telephone cable as a ligature in the attack which happened in a house at Patrick Place, Ballymena, on October 11, 2003.

The victim described how he played dead and was forced to watch and listen as Aaron White ordered a saw to cut up his body for disposal.

He was cut 16 times, beaten with a saucepan, kicked and subjected to an attempted strangulation.

Sentencing Aaron White to 22 years, Mr Justice Gillen said the attack on the victim "stands out as one of the most viciously sectarian and unprovoked attacks that the court has had the misfortune to encounter in recent years".

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In court today, Mr Law submitted that in sobriety White “is an entirely different individual” and someone who “probation feel that they could help.”

Judge Greene told White “I can entirely understand why, with your record, this behaviour justified wholeheartedly the sentences passed in the lower court” and warned that it was “marginal decision” that he was replacing the jail sentence with the 18 month probation order.

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