A man who sustained serious damage to his brain after being beaten by an iron bar wielded by his mother’s partner was sentenced on July 7 for stabbing her in the back.
Matthew Jay Hunter appeared before the court, where he was handed a three-year Probation Order.
Sentencing the 29-year-old for the knife attack which occurred in June 2019, Judge Stephen Fowler QC revealed that Hunter had sustained life-changing injuries primarily to his brain, after he was whacked over the head with an iron bar by his mum’s boyfriend.
Hunter contracted multiple fractures to his skull and has been left with severe brain damage which affects his way of life daily.
His attacker Ryan Taylor was subsequently handed a 14-year sentence for the iron bar attack, whilst Hunter’s mother got a suspended sentence for her attempt to conceal the crime committed against her son.
Hunter, with an address at Finaghy Road South, admitted wounding his mother in June 2019. He also admitted possessing a kitchen knife and assaulting his brother on the same night.
Weeks before the stabbing, Hunter’s mother was sleeping on her sofa when she was woken by her son, who said ‘you are lying there sleeping and I wanted to stab you but I know that it’s wrong. I love you and I would never do that.’
She said that despite being wary of her son – who had made similar comments to her before – he was calm.
However, on June 2, 2019 he arrived at her home at around 11pm. They got into a row about him blaming her for the iron bar attack, then Hunter armed himself with a knife from her kitchen which he used to stab her once in the back.
Hunter’s brother witnessed the attack and fearing that their mother was going to be stabbed again, he intervened and sustained a wound to his hand.
The injured woman was taken to hospital where three stitches were required to treat a one-cm wound, while Hunter was arrested and gave a ‘no comment’ response during interview.
Defence barrister Neil Connor QC urged Judge Fowler not to send Hunter to jail.
Revealing Hunter is the recipient of a full support package which caters to his multiple needs, Mr Connor said a jail term would result in a loss of both this support and his specialist accommodation.
Judge Fowler said that after reading medical reports on the aftermath of the 2015 attack on Hunter, it was clear the brain injuries he sustained were life-changing.
The Belfast Recorder revealed that after spending six months in hospital, Hunter had to learn how to walk and talk again.
The defendant has been left with injuries that have impacted every aspect of his life.
Judge Fowler said one such impact was Hunter’s inability to appreciate the consequences of his actions, which in turn affected his level of culpability.
Noting that the back wound was “relatively modest”, the Judge said it appeared Hunter now has “no contact with his mother” and is “trying to make a life for himself away from his family.”
Judge Fowler said that whilst the custody threshold had been passed, he was treating this case as “exceptional”.
Saying a community-based option was the most appropriate given the circumstances, Judge Fowler imposed a three-year Probation Order and told Hunter he has to attend all courses and programmes deemed suitable by his Supervising Officer.
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