BARKING MAD Celebrity dog groomer avoids ‘doghouse’ after battering wedding guest in unprovoked attack
Thomas McDonald battered a wedding guest he’d never met before and left him needing surgery – but was so ‘Shih Tzu-faced’ on booze he can’t remember a thing
Steven Moore and Paul Higgins
December 16 2021 08:45 AM
A celebrity dog groomer with the snarling temper of a rabid pit bull has narrowly avoided being sent to the ‘doghouse’ after ‘ruffing’ up a complete stranger.
Thomas McDonald battered a wedding guest he’d never met before and left him needing surgery to reset his broken nose – but was so ‘Shih Tzu-faced’ on booze he can’t remember a thing!
And when we confronted the father-of-five about his case this week he barked back: “And what?”
A judge this week ordered the thug to pay his victim a whopping £5,000 in compensation but decided not to send him to jail because of the impact it would have on the people he employs at his successful dog grooming business.
She also branded him a “complete disgrace” who “brought shame on his family” and told him he should stop drinking alcohol and seek help to cure his foul temper.
The 36-year-old runs the Wizard of Dogs grooming business in Cookstown and appeared earlier this year on hit BBC prime time show Pooch Perfect.
But we can reveal not only was the short-tempered dog shearer on bail awaiting trial when he appeared on the national TV show – he also has a disturbing history of violence.
In fact, a judge at Antrim Crown Court this week described McDonald as a Jekyll and Hyde character after it emerged he already had a conviction for grievous bodily harm and a third separate convictions for actual bodily harm.
We confronted McDonald this week to ask if he had any remorse for his completely unprovoked attack on his poor victim.
But we found him working away at the Wizard of Dogs business and he wasn’t too keen to talk about his court case.
“And what?” he snapped when we told him we were reporting his court case.
When we told him we wanted to give him the opportunity to give his side of what happened he tried to bluff us by saying, “What court case?”
Clearly not in the mood to go into details, we told him we would be running his story but all he would say was: “No, you do whatever you want to do, I’m not commenting on it.”
On Monday Judge Patricia Smyth told McDonald that although he “deserves to go straight to prison” for breaking the man’s nose in the unprovoked attack, especially given the fact this was the third time he had been sentenced for violent offences, “it’s the Jekyll and Hyde aspect of this case that troubles me.”
McDonald, from Coolmount Park, was on bail for battering the guest when he made an appearance on BBC One show Pooch Perfect, pitching dog groomers from across the UK against each other.
Broadcast at primetime on January 7 last year and presented by actress and West End star Sheridan Smith, McDonald fails to impress the judges when he has to clip Bourbon the Shih Tzu and ends up “in the doghouse” but he almost redeems himself with Red, a cross breed Cavapoo who has a teddy bear cut. McDonald impresses Red’s owners but the judges less so and he exits the competition in joint third.
At the time of the broadcast, where he described himself as a “chilled character,” McDonald was facing court proceedings charged with inflicting actual bodily harm on November 2, 2019.
McDonald was at a wedding at the plush Roe Park Hotel in Limavady when the night manager called police after he punched a fellow guest “six or seven times” to the face.
The victim spoke to police at the scene and told them he was “minding his own business, mingling with guests when he was hit in the face a number of times by a male,” leaving him covered in blood.
“That was you,” Judge Smyth told McDonald, “this was an unprovoked attack, under the influence of alcohol…. the victim didn’t even know the male involved.”
She outlined how the night manager who saw the incident remarked there had been “no interaction at all” between McDonald and the victim before he launched his assault which broke the man’s nose and required surgery to correct.
Interviewed by cops five weeks later, McDonald said he had been drinking all day, could remember falling asleep and “being spoken to by police” but could not recall anything of the violent incident.
Judge Smyth revealed that McDonald had twice been before the courts for violence before – given a suspended jail sentence for GBH in 2012 and a probation order for another actual bodily harm in 2014.
McDonald’s convictions, said the judge, was an aggravating factor as was the fact that he had landed “multiple blows” and battered his victim while drunk, but he was due credit for pleading guilty even though he had little choice given the strength of the case against him.
“You are a man who should not drink alcohol,” Judge Smyth told McDonald, “it doesn’t agree with you and turns you into something of a Jekyll and Hyde character.”
Turning to McDonald’s personal background, the judge said the father-of-five was a “successful businessman in the community” having turned the negative of redundancy into a positive by opening his dog grooming business which employs up to three people and trains other groomers.
“You have provided employment in the community, you provide for your family and pay your mother’s mortgage as well as your own but once you drink alcohol to excess, a very different character emerges, a man capable of unprovoked violence,” said Judge Smyth.
Leaving absolutely no room for doubt, she told McDonald his actions “are a complete disgrace, have brought shame on yourself and your family and injured an innocent man for no reason.”
On the one hand, she was faced with a violent drunk who had twice failed to learn lessons and “deserves to go straight to prison” but on the other, a man with “lots of positive attributes” whose business would close and whose family would suffer if he went to jail.
“These are innocent people and it’s the Jekyll and Hyde aspect of this case that troubles me,” said Judge Smyth who told McDonald his problems with alcohol “needs to be addressed if the public is to be protected.”
“The question for me is how do I deter you and others from abusing alcohol with such catastrophic effect?” the judge asked rhetorically.
Answering her own question, she said the “easy answer” was just to jail McDonald “but is it ultimately the right answer?”
Judge Smyth said she had concluded that “you need help, professional help, because this is such a serious problem” but that McDonald “also needs to be punished.”
In order to do both, the judge ordered McDonald to complete two years on probation along with 80 hours of community service, warning the thug that he would be “told what to do and where to do it” with a warning that if he failed to comply, he would likely be jailed.
Ordering him to pay £5,000 compensation to the victim, she told McDonald “you are going to pay for your behaviour.”