A drug addict who carried out an anti-gay attack has avoided being sent to prison with his lawyer insisting he was not homophobic, having been looked after by a gay man earlier in his life.

Belfast Magistrates’ Court heard Jamie McDermott assaulted his victim in Belfast city centre on 26 May.

McDermott, of Crossan Walk, Lisburn, south-west Belfast, ran up behind the victim and his friend and started shouting homophobic abuse.

The court heard the incident had been aggravated by McDermott’s hostility and homophobic comments.

Described as a drug addict in court, who had taken a legal high before the attack, McDermott was found dishevelled and appeared to be under the influence of drugs when arrested.

His lawyer said he had made full admissions to the common assault charge and apologised for his actions.

After being told of McDermott’s troubled background and addiction problems, the 29-year-old was ordered to serve 18 months’ probation by the judge.