Community service man ‘bitten by snake’

Ballymena Courthouse. INBT02-213AC
Ballymena Courthouse. INBT02-213AC

A Ballymena man who claimed being bitten by a snake meant he could not complete Community Service has been given an eight months prison term but released pending appeal.

Scott Balmer (19), of Douglas Terrace, failed to turn up do unpaid work earlier this year and when he appeared at Ballymena Magistrates Court on Thursday he pleaded guilty to two breaches.

He had been given 200 hours Community Service in March this year for an offence referred to on the charge sheet as ‘wounding’.

Defence barrister Stephen Law told the court his client had given an unusual reason for missing Community Service.

“He was bitten by a snake and needed to attend his GP,” said the lawyer.

The lawyer added that it was “outrageous” for the defendant to come out with a claim that he was bitten by a reptile but he said his client’s lifestyle had been “chaotic” as he had effectively been homeless and was “sofa surfing”.

Said Mr Law: “It was very hard to have the structure to attend Community Service when you are constantly thinking where you are going to stay that night”.

Regarding the ‘wounding’ charge, Mr Law said there had been an “intervention” and another young man was the “instigator”.

The barrister said Balmer has “now got things together” and wants to make amends and he asked the court to put his client to the test to see if he could complete his Community Service.

District Judge Peter King told Balmer: “I’m not sure you fully understand the position you have put yourself in”.

From the dock, Balmer replied “Huh?” before he revoked the Community Service Order and replaced it with eight months in custody.

Mr Law said his client wished to appeal and was released on his own bail of £500.