Stephen William Meeke attacked his neighbour with a brush shaft, leaving a nasty gash on the back of his head which saw him being rushed to the hospital.
Stephen William Meeke was jailed for six months last month after a judge found him guilty of maliciously wounding his next-door neighbour in a nasty attack last May but is out on bail to appeal his sentence.
It was reported in Court News NI that the 59-year-old from Station Road, Cullybackey had attacked his neighbour, of the same age, after claiming the victim kept chucking litter into his garden.
The court was told Meeke attacked his neighbour with a brush shaft, leaving a nasty gash on the back of his head which eventually saw him being rushed to the Royal Victoria Hospital for emergency surgery to treat a bleed on the brain.
In fact the man had two bleeds on the brain and at one stage his condition was described by doctors as “critical, but non-life-threatening”.
He also had injuries to his teeth, a cut lip and had been unable to work since the disturbing incident.
But when confronted by the Sunday World this week the bearded brush beast continued to rubbish the findings of the court.
In fact, just as he had claimed at Ballymena Magistrates’ Court, rather than confess to his shocking behaviour he continued to ‘shaft’ his neighbour by making the outrageous claim the victim had done the injury to himself.
“He hit me first and I chucked a brush shaft at his head,” said Meeke, who knows how to handle a brush after a year’s working for the Roads Service. “He’d been chucking litter into my front garden, papers and weeds and stuff and I’d had enough.
“I’d told him to stop doing it but he got angry and came round to my backyard to confront me, I didn’t go looking for trouble with him.
“He hit me first and when he turned to walk away I threw the brush at him and it hit the back of his head – it was nothing more than that.
“He then went and got a stick with a metal tip on it and started scratching at his head with it to make the injury worse than it was.”
The suggestion his victim had been able to turn a minor head injury into a major head trauma by “scratching” at the wound was completely rubbished in court and rejected by the judge.
But Meeke, who incredibly told us he wasn’t aware he was facing six months behind bars, told the Sunday World he wasn’t a violent man.
“I’ve lived here in this house for 30 years and never had a bother with anyone,” he explained. “I’m not a violent man at all, in fact I’ve never even been in a fight before.
“I had no idea I’d been sentenced to six months in jail. I can’t believe that, how can I be sent to jail when all I was doing was defending myself?
“It’s been very embarrassing because like I say I’ve never been in trouble with the police before in my life.
“I couldn’t believe it when the police came to arrest me. I just had to go. I was going to make a statement that he had attacked me first but then I decided I couldn’t be bothered but I didn’t think I’d end up in prison over it.”
A prosecutor told the court this week that on May 27, 2021, police received a report of an assault and when police attended the injured man's top was "covered in blood" and he sustained a "large gash to the back of his head" and a "cut to his lip".
The prosecutor said the assault victim told police there had been an "argument" between him and Meeke "over rubbish being thrown into his garden by the defendant" – the opposite of what Meeke told the Sunday World.
The prosecutor said it had been alleged that during the argument Meeke had lifted a brush shaft and hit the man over the head with it and also struck him in the face.
The man attended Antrim Area Hospital for treatment but during the night he had "taken a turn for the worse" and was transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast where he was "rushed in to surgery as he had a bleed on the brain".
Surgery was carried out and the bleed to the brain was drained and staff were hopeful a second brain bleed would "resolve itself".
Staff were unable to confirm how many stitches were needed for the "significant" cut to the back of his head and his left eye was bloody; the area around his eyes and lips were reddened and swollen and he had a "weakness in his arms".
The prosecutor said at the time staff described his condition as "critical but non-life-threatening".
When interviewed the defendant said the neighbour had entered his garage in connection with the rubbish issue and he alleged the injured party punched him on the shoulder which caused a "flare-up" of arthritis and in response he "threw a brush shaft" which struck his neighbour.
The defendant alleged the man had then gone to his own garden "and attempted to make the wound to the back of his head worse".
Meeke said he asked his neighbour if had wanted him to phone for an ambulance or for the police and claimed the injured man "declined" the request.
The prosecutor said initially the defendant wanted to make a "counter-allegation" but later declined to provide a statement.
During a second interview, Meeke told police he saw the neighbour "lift a mop shaft from his garden and walk down the laneway towards the road" and said the mop shaft had a "round metal bit on the bottom" and the neighbour used it to "dip his oil tank".
Defence barrister Chris Sherrard said Meeke had been convicted at a contest.
He said there was "somewhat of a confused picture as to the exact sequence of events" but it was clear the neighbour sustained a "very significant injury, unfortunately" but "we understand that he has recovered and that there has been no lasting damage".
He said it was also significant that although the men lived "cheek by jowl" there had been no further "flare-ups" or "hostilities" since the "unfortunate incident".
The lawyer said the defendant regretted the offence which had been a "non-premeditated, brief, assault".
The defence barrister said during the contest the defendant had put forward a "self-defence case" but there had been an "inability to articulate" that.
The lawyer said Meeke was a man with "very constrained cognitive abilities".
He added: "Without wishing to lay any blame against the complainant there was a degree of provocation because of previous history with regards to litter going over the boundary between the two parties but clearly not justifiable in terms of the actions taken by Mr Meeke".
District Judge Nigel Broderick said the injuries were "not consistent with just throwing a brush shaft at the victim".
The judge said that during the contest he noticed the victim had a "pronounced shake in his right hand" and the victim had indicated he had not been able to drive since the incident and he was attending physiotherapy.