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Man who bit police officer twice handed five month prison sentence

A Tandragee man has been given an five-month prison sentence for biting a police officer twice on Halloween night.

Paul Kearney, 22, of Ashtree Hill, appeared before Armagh Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday charged with two counts of assaulting police, resisting arrest and causing actual bodily harm.

Around 7.20pm on October 31, 2016, police were called to a report of anti-social behaviour at the Bann Bridge in Portadown.

At the scene police located Kearney by the river intoxicated and rocking back and forth.

Police assisted the defendant into the back of their car in an effort to get him home safely.

Whilst in the car Kearney became “extremely agitated”, when he began kicking out before attempting to get into the front of the vehicle.

The defendant continued to kick the driver, but they were unable to stop the car as it would be a danger to other road users, the court heard.

When the vehicle was eventually stopped Kearney began rocking side to side and talking to himself.

Police rang for backup, but the closest support was 10 minutes away.

The arresting officers eventually restrained the defendant but he then managed to bite the right upper arm of one of them during the struggle.

When asked to release his bite Kearney refused; he then proceeded to bite the left arm of the same officer.

The defendant was eventually brought to Armagh custody suite.

Court heard that the injured officer had to receive two tetanus shots following the attack.

Prosecution told court that police had been concerned for Kearney’s safety and had originally been called to the scene for a separate incident.

Defence counsel stated that the defendant offered a “full and frank apology to the police officers and to the court”.

The added that he suffered greatly from mental health issues and suffered a significant brain injury in 2014.

Court also heard that Kearney had a “very difficult upbringing with both of his parents being non-functional alcoholics”.

Defence explained on the night in question the defendant had turned to alcohol after the breakdown of a relationship, adding he understands the police may have saved his life.

It was suggested by the defence that a combination order would best suit this case with a condition being that he must not consume alcohol.

This they explained would help him find a “dry sober place”.

Court heard that Kearney had recently secured employment and would begin on Monday.

Defence counsel told District Judge Paul Copeland that the defendant was “prepared to work his community service hours alongside this job” adding that “if that means working a seven-day week so be it”.

Judge Copeland stated he felt that the custody threshold had been met and that a combination order would not be “fitting”.

He went further saying that “to attack police officers who came to your assistance with such persistence, regardless of it being fuelled by drink”, especially biting which he noted as being “particularly vicious” would make only a custodial sentence suitable.

Kearney was sentenced five months in prison and ordered to pay compensation of £1,200 to the injured officer over 26 weeks, along with an offender’s levy of £25.

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