Man left ‘effectively blind’ after incident

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A Co Antrim chef was cleared by a jury on Wednesday, March 8 of intentionally wounding a work colleague on staff night out.

It took a jury of eight men and four woman less than an hour to return a unanimously ‘not guilty’ verdict against 33-year-old Peter Cole.

From Knockleigh Park in Greenisland, Cole looked relieved after the jury acquitted him of wounding his colleague with the intention of causing grievous bodily harm. He admitted to a lesser charge of wounding his colleague, who was left “effectively blind” in one eye after being struck in the face with a pint glass.

During a two-day trial held at Belfast Crown Court, the jury was shown CCTV footage of the incident, which occurred on the evening of January 10 2016. Staff from Deane’s Deli went for a meal as part of a post-Christmas party, before moving onto the Garrick. The complainant - who at the time of the incident worked in the same eatery where Cole was head chef - was struck in the face with a glass wielded by Cole.

The court heard prior to the night out, the complainant and Cole exchanged words on occasion about staff meals and other work-related incident. While Cole admitted causing the injury, he maintained he was provoked, and that he never intentionally intended to cause the other man serious harm - rather he meant to throw his drink over him for insulting his mother.

Cole tearfully told the jury he was sorry and ashamed, while the injured party said he was left effectively blind in one eye as a result of his right lens being lost in the incident. After the verdict was returned, Cole’s barrister asked that pre-sentence reports be prepared ahead of next month’s sentencing for the wounding charge. The father of two - who came before the court with an otherwise clear record - was released on bail by Judge McCaffrey and was told: “I want to make you aware, the fact you’re released on bail doesn’t give an indication of what the final outcome may be in terms of sentencing.”