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Armagh cyclist who was repeatedly abusive to police and refused searches gets suspended sentence

Defendant asked police: 'Do you want me to give you a reason to arrest me?' before adding: 'F*** you, you dirty black b******s' and raising his middle finger

An Armagh man who refused to be stopped or be searched by police on three occasions has been handed a suspended prison sentence.

The 38-year-old’s barrister told the court: “This man certainly has intelligence. He knows the law and feels he is being punished for crimes which he has already been punished for.”

Damien Francis Cauldwell, of Killuney Drive, pleaded guilty to two counts of disorderly behaviour, obstructing police, failing to stop for police and breach of a traffic sign at the city’s Magistrates’ Court, sitting at Newry, on Tuesday.

Prosecution outlined that on April 22, last year  at 3.20pm, police were on cycle patrol of Dobbin Street Lane in Armagh, when they observed Cauldwell coming in their direction.

Upon seeing police, he shouted, in the presence of people in the street, “f****** scumbag b*******” before making off at speed in an opposite direction.

Officers followed the defendant and eventually caught up with him. He became aggressive and irate with them believing he was under the influence of something.

He was searched and began to shout profanities, while resisting the search. There were members of the public present at the time.

This search was deemed negative; he was cautioned for disorderly behaviour and displayed the middle finger as he cycled away down Dobbin Street.

Then on September 7, of last year, at 6.45pm, police were on patrol of the Cathedral Road, Armagh, in the vicinity of Sherry’s Field and observed the defendant near the recreational centre.

They noted that he looked directly at them. He was called by name but refused to stop and cycled away.

He was later observed cycling on the middle of the road on Market Street against the flow of one-way traffic.

Cauldwell then cycled past officers on the footpath, and they called his first name to stop, to which he replied “no” and continued to cycle.

Police followed and activated sirens, and observed as he turned into an alleyway on McCrums Court.

Officers again stopped their vehicle and got out. He was called once more and warned he was committing an offence but cycled on.

On September 24, at 4.20pm, police observed the defendant in the front garden of a property on Culdee Drive.

Upon approach he entered the address. Officers spoke to the occupant and then spotted Cauldwell emerge from the rear of the property. He was subsequently cautioned.

Then on January 31, this year, at 11.50am, police observed the defendant cycling along the footpath on Scotch Street in the opposite direction of traffic towards Thomas Street.

They spoke to Cauldwell, who said: “Before you even open your mouth I am recording you on Facebook Live. If you think I have drugs on me arrest me because you are not arresting me.”

When informed that a search would be conducted, the defendant refused saying “do you want me to give you a reason to arrest me, f*** you, you dirty black b******s” and raised his middle finger.

He was warned about his language, but replied “arrest me” and “f*** you”, this time putting up both his middle fingers towards police.

After further warnings, he said: “What part of arrest me do you not f****** understand?” among other things.

Cauldwell was then told he would be reported and cautioned for disorderly behaviour, and during this he retorted “f*** you” a total of eight times.

In an attempt to calm the situation, he was informed that following the search he would be allowed to leave and that he wouldn’t be arrested.

But he replied: “The only way you are searching me is if you arrest me.”

He was asked to empty his pockets, to which he made reference to certain matters in his pockets.

During several attempts to search the defendant, he stated “f** you, there’s your arrest”. He was subsequently arrested for disorderly behaviour.

A further attempt was made to search Cauldwell. This time he shouted: “I think this guy is gay. Someone get me an ambulance. I think this guy is going to touch me.”

Due to defendant’s aggressive nature and search being impossible to be conducted safely he was further arrested for obstructing police, before being conveyed into Dungannon Custody Suite.

Defence barrister Patrick Taggart stated: “His record does him no credit whatsoever. As you can see from his record he has been known to Mr Copeland [District Judge] for generations.

“Out of the group of friends that he grew up with, who got involved in drugs in and around 2007, as recently as two weeks ago the fourteenth friend of his died.”

He continued: “He has beaten his heroin addiction and is now on the subutex programme. This is appalling behaviour but his point of view is ‘I am being stopped repeatedly because of my past’.

“We are asking police to recognise his circumstances. For a man on death’s door he bought himself a bike, he started eating healthily and he is cycling up to 130km a week. He has turned himself around.”

District Judge Eamonn King asked: “Was he a happy addict because he does not appear to be a very happy person now?”

Mr Taggart stated: “This man certainly has intelligence. He knows the law and feels he is being punished for crimes which he has already been punished for.”

District Judge King stated: “You have an atrocious record, 140 previous convictions which start way back to 2000 and Mr Taggart has alluded to your association with drugs in that period.

“On your own, you have managed to beat addiction. The court is delighted to hear a story such as yours. If you can maintain drug absence for another year you could be consulting and advising others.”

He continued: “It is clear from the facts that you do not start the argument but you do end it. It is much easier to ride on past, don’t make a gesture or start on a tirade, just put your hand up and sail on by.

“You could use what you have experienced to help the young people of Armagh. You would being doing yourself a great service and others.”

Mr King added: “It is all well and good me telling people that heroin could ruin their life, but I have never taken it. You could tell them of your story and all you have been through.

“It would be a great benefit to young people, who think a wee bit of blow or a bit of crack is not going to harm them.”

Cauldwell was sentenced to three months in prison suspended for 12 months an was ordered to pay a fine of £50, along with an offender’s levy of £15.

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