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Man with 78 previous convictions jailed for biting police officer while on bail

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A man with 78 previous convictions was sentenced to four months in prison for biting and spitting at a police officer while punching another.

Jason Morton, of William Street in Donaghcloney, was described as a “real asset to the community” when he’s sober by his defence solicitor Damien Halleron, but that there are “two sides” to his client.

The 31-year-old appeared before Craigavon Magistrates’ Court, sitting in Lisburn, via videolink from Maghberry on Friday.

He was charged with two counts of assault on police, both of which occurred while on bail for another matter.

The prosecution, outlining the facts in the case, said police received a report of an intoxicated male lying at the rear of an address in William Street, Donaghcloney.

Police arrived a short time later and neighbours confirmed the man – the defendant – had gone back inside. It was a this point police spotted droplets of blood on the ground at the rear gate and therefore decided to enter the property due to their concerns.

Morton was found in an upstairs bedroom with a cut to his eyebrow.

Police arrested him for breach of court bail, and once inside the police vehicle he became aggressive before punching a constable in the face.

He attempted to headbutt another constable before biting him on the arm and spitting at him. He was then arrested for assault on police.

The court heard the 31-year-old had 78 previous convictions – with three of those assaults on police.

Mr Halleron explained: “Mr Morton, when he is under the influence of alcohol, he does not go quietly.

“Now, I accept the aggravating factor in the case being he bit an officer. He has accepted culpability at the first opportunity. He had been custody from March 31 right through until about three days before this offence.

District Judge Rosie Watters commented: “There are aggravating features in this offence but the court also views it an aggravating feature that this offence was committed whilst on bail.”

Mr Halleron continued: “It’s inevitable he’s going to get a custodial sentence but he had been engaging reasonably well with his community service order when it was in place.

“He was assisting with St Vincent de Paul in Banbridge and they have indicated they would take him back as a voluntary worker with a view to employment in the future.

“There are two sides to Mr Morton, the one where he drinks and becomes violent and the second is when he’s a real asset to the community and that’s the real problem, he has to grasp that nettle and in the past there has been an imperfect attempt to do that.”

Judge Watters imposed a four month prison sentence for each of the offences to run concurrently.

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