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Police officer strangulation accused allegedly tried to choke pizza shop customer shortly before

Court told Injured officer left vomiting blood, unable to speak and struggling to breathe

A Loughbrickland man has been remanded in custody accused of what was described in court as an “horrendous” strangulation attack on a police officer, having just minutes beforehand attempted to choke a member of the public who almost lost consciousness.

Kyle Burns, from Bronte Park, is charged with intentionally strangling a police officer affecting his ability to breathe and the flow of blood to his brain.

He is also charged with assaulting a male causing actual bodily harm and four counts of assaulting other police officers.

The alleged incident occurred when police were called to a disturbance at a pizza outlet in Banbridge at around 11pm on July 10.

An officer familiar with the facts of the case told a special sitting of Lisburn Magistrates’ Court today (Wednesday), that the charges could be connected.

She explained when police arrived Burns was observed seated near the counter and pizzas were strewn all over the floor.

A male customer said he had been waiting for pizza when Burns arrived and placed his order and a verbal altercation broke out.

Fearing he would be attacked, the customer struck out in self-defence but Burns allegedly tried to bite him and began choking him “to the point he nearly passed out”.

Police escorted Burns from the scene and one officer remained with him while others spoke to the alleged injured party.

However, during this, staff advised the officer was “in difficulty” with Burns outside.

Colleagues found the officer in an injured state while allegedly being kicked at repeatedly by Burns.

He was moved away but allegedly continued to kick out, resist, and throw punches at the officers.

The injured officer was not involved at this point having waited alongside the police vehicle, but two members of the public found him vomiting blood, unable to breathe and holding his throat.

Court heard Burns’ “uncontrollable volatile behaviour” was later described by the injured officer who set out being choked, punched, bitten and kicked.

Objecting to bail the officer said Burns has 35 previous convictions including three assaults on police and seven for disorderly behaviour.

He is currently under a Probation Order until 2024 for disorderly behaviour and, court heard, “there’s a serious risk of reoffending and a risk to the public. He has caused serious injury, not only to a police officer, but he also attacked a member of the public at random.”

A defence solicitor conceded the assaults were “absolutely horrendous and there’s no way anyone could justify that behaviour”, before adding: “My client’s recollection of events is hazy in the extreme and he offers his apologies, not only to members of the public, but particularly the officer who sustained very serious injuries indeed.”

He pointed to Burns having a difficulty with alcohol to which District Judge Rosemary Watters remarked: “And drugs – the most recent of which he was given just a fine. Unbelievable.”

The defence argued that, with appropriate conditions including a ban on alcohol, Burns could be released on bail.

District Judge Watters replied: “This was indeed an horrendous attack on a member of the public and then a police officer.

“The defendant has a record of 35 convictions and drugs and alcohol feature frequently. However, as far as I can see, he has never spent time in custody.

“He’s not getting the message that consuming drugs and alcohol is no excuse for committing offences. I’m refusing bail as the risks are too great.”

Burns was remanded in custody to appear again by video-link at Banbridge Magistrates’ Court next month.

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