'shocking' | 

Thug silent after blind man he battered keeps him out of jail

A judge described the attack on a vulnerable man as “shocking” and “beyond belief” while a previous judge raised questions about how Gilmour had managed to get a “glowing reference” from former Health Minister Robin Swann.

Roy Gilmore is confronted at his door this week by the Sunday World’s Steven Moore

Former Health Minister Robin Swann

Steven MooreSunday World

A bullying thug who battered a blind man in a shocking street attack had “nothing to say” this week about his victim who generously kept him out of jail.

Roy Gilmour repeatedly punched and kicked his 63-year-old victim, who is registered blind and uses a rollator to get around due to mobility issues, after accusing the man of bumping into Gilmour and his disabled son.

A judge described the attack on a vulnerable man as “shocking” and “beyond belief” while a previous judge raised questions about how Gilmour had managed to get a “glowing reference” from former Health Minister Robin Swann.

During the disturbing attack Gilmour has plenty to say as he screams aggressively in the face of his disabled victim but he wasn’t up for a chat when we called at his door.

We obtained video footage of the entire attack and it shows Roy Gilmour unleash a vicious volley of punches as well as shouting and screaming abuse at his prostrate victim.

Gilmour is seen squaring up to the man toe-to-toe in Wellington Street in Ballymena in November 2021.

Gilmour can be heard screaming at the man: “Who do you think you are, I’ll knock the f**king head of ye.”

The blind man says something that can’t be made out and Gilmour screams even louder, “Go ahead, try me, go ahead,” before he unleashes his cowardly attack on the man.

The victim grabs Gilmour’s coat and Gilmour punches his him three times in the head, even lashing out when he was clearly already falling to the ground along with his walking aid.

Gilmour then gives his victim a couple of kicks while he’s lying on the wet road, in front of a parked car.

A woman passing by tries to tell Gilmour his victim is disabled but he doesn’t seem to take notice.

Gilmour shouts at the man, “You get the police and I’ll tell you where I live, I don’t care.”

Former Health Minister Robin Swann

The argument continues and Gilmour is seen screaming at the man, “How the f**k didn’t you know it,” as he appears to imitate the man walking down the street on his rollator.

The 61-year-old Ballymena man narrowly escaped going to prison last week after a judge overturned a three-month prison sentence handed out to Gilmour in December.

At his appeal a different judge cut the jail sentence to six weeks and also suspended it for a year.

During his appeal it emerged his victim had made it clear he didn’t want Mr Gilmour to go to prison and it’s understood this played a major part in the second judge suspending the sentence.

In fact the victim had made the authorities aware he was “upset” at hearing Gilmour had been told he was going to jail.

We confronted Mr Gilmour this week at his Tullymore Park home to ask him if he had anything to say to his victim for helping to keep him out of jail.

But he just shook his head and said, “I have nothing to say”, before shutting his front door.

The extremely kind gesture from the victim is all the more astonishing given at a previous hearing the court was told he suffered from emotional trauma following the attack and was fearful of going outside.

We had also wanted to ask Roy Gilmour about how he came about securing a reference from former Health Minister Robin Swann but never got the chance.

At an earlier hearing it also emerged Gilmour had managed to get what the judge described as a “glowing reference” from the North Antrim MLA.

Judge Broderick expressed surprise that the former Ulster Unionist Party leader had given such a reference to a man who had beaten up a blind and disabled man so viciously – even suggesting Mr Swann couldn’t possibly have known the seriousness of the attack.

The Sunday World contacted the Ulster Unionist Party but they said Mr Swann had “no comment” to make when asked how the reference had come about.

The Antrim County Court judge Desmond Marrinan said while some might see six weeks jail, suspended for one year, as a lenient sentence, he explained he believed Gilmour had acted “completely out of character” and it was “highly unlikely” he would ever be in court again.

At an earlier hearing Gilmour, from Tullymore Park in the town, pleaded guilty to a single count of common assault during the incident on Wellington Street on November 25, 2021.

The victim, a 63-year-old man who is registered blind with only 10-15% vision and who uses a rollator to get around as he cannot use a stick, was walking when he encountered Gilmour and his disabled son, who is also partially sighted, coming towards him.

The victim stopped but Gilmour and his son did not change their course and bumped into him, with Gilmour reacting angrily, knocking his victim down with three punches to the face. When the man was lying on the ground, he kicked him at least once.

The victim, the court heard, sustained injuries to his nose and cheeks and there was blood on his coat but the prosecution revealed how the man “was upset” that Gilmour had been jailed last month.

Defence counsel Grant Powles said that on the day of the incident Gilmour had been taking his severely disabled son to see Santa when “unfortunately, especially for the injured party, their paths came together.”

Imposing the suspended sentence, Judge Marrinan said: “Justice must always be tempered with mercy,” and given his background, “I’m sure you bitterly regret what happened”.

At the earlier hearing when Gilmour was jailed for three months Judge Broderick raised the issue of how he came to have a reference from a senior politician.

The judge said: "I do question had Mr Swann known the full facts would he have been so glowing in his references to the defendant? No defendant should approach anyone for a character reference unless the proposed author is fully aware of the crime which they have committed so I am not sure if Mr Swann wants his name associated with the defendant, if he knew all the facts".

Judge Broderick noted the victim is "registered blind" and the presence of the rollator at the scene meant it "would have been obvious then, one would have thought, that he was a person of certain disabilities".

He said that very often physical injuries heal but there is "emotional trauma" and the effect it has had on the victim's confidence regarding "being able to go back out into the street and, because of his significant disability with reduced sight, that he then treats anyone who comes up to him and speak to him with a great degree of fear and trepidation because he is afraid the same thing is going to happen to him.

"It is also like a type of post-traumatic stress disorder".

Steven.moore@sundayworld.com


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