A 42-year-old father-of-six who shot at a neighbour in the communal area of a block of flats in north Belfast before pistol-whipping him has been sent to prison.

Sean Cairan McCallan admitted three charges arising from the drink-fuelled altercation, which occurred in the New Lodge on the evening of June 7, 2016.

Belfast Crown Court heard that while the weapon in question has never been recovered, it is believed to have been either a pellet gun or starter pistol.

McCallan, from Fianna House, was handed a sentence of two years and six months for the “sinister act”.

Judge Geoffrey Miller QC told McCallan he will serve half the sentence in prison and half on licence after his release.

The court heard that events prior to the incident were confused due to conflicting accounts, but CCTV footage showed McCallan walking out of his flat with a weapon in his hand.

In the footage, McCallan points the gun and shoots at a neighbour, who turns his back on McCallan and crouches down beside a stairwell.

McCallan then ratchets the weapon, which causes a round of ammunition to fall to the floor, before hitting the victim over the head with the gun.

A Crown prosecutor said the injured man then left the communal area and sought out the concierge, who was a relative, while McCallan returned to his flat.

Prosecutor Philip Henry said the two were among a group of people who had been drinking in McCallan’s flat.

An argument broke out, which spilled into the communal area, where the gun was used by McCallan against his neighhour.

The injured man – who has a criminal record that includes violent offences – was treated in hospital for a number of injuries, including a cut to the back of his head and a 2cm puncture wound to his stomach.

The court heard he told a doctor he had been shot with a pellet gun.

When McCallan was arrested and questioned, he initially denied the offences. However, he had since pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear, possession of ammunition in suspicious circumstances, and assaulting his neighbour.

Defence barrister Jonathan Browne told Judge Miller “a number of different accounts” had been given by the injured man, some of which were plainly not true, and urged the judge to view these versions of events “with a degree of caution”.

Pointing out that all parties had been drinking before the incident in the communal hall, Mr Browne described what happened as a “domestic … all the parties knew each other”.

The barrister said McCallan had significant mobility and mental health issues, and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in the mid-2000s due to a serious assault and a bad car crash.

These mobility issues, Mr Browne said, had led to McCallan becoming isolated within the community.

Jailing McCallan, Judge Miller said the fact he pistol-whipped his neighbour after both firing then ratcheting the weapon showed a “callousness and determination to inflict physical harm”.

Judge Miller also described the incident as “a fall-out between people who knew each other, and who had spent time in each other’s company when alcohol, and most likely narcotics, had been consumed”.

Belfast Telegraph

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