A man who spat at and assaulted police following after being informed of an outstanding arrest warrant from 2009 has been handed a suspended prison sentence.
The 30-year-old’s barrister stated that his client had told probation that police have “better things to do than deal with a drunken idiot”.
Martin Nolan Connors, of Glenkeen in Dunmurry, appeared for sentencing on three counts of assault on police, resisting police, disorderly behaviour and criminal damage at Newry Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, via videolink from his solicitor’s office.
Prosecution outlined that on January 16, at 12.30am, police on patrol in Newry had reason to stop an Alfa Romeo vehicle on New Street.
Whilst speaking to the driver, the front seat passenger became abusive towards officers and he refused to give his correct details.
The male was shouting and swearing at police. When officers were able to ascertain his identity as this defendant, it was found that there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest.
Upon being informed of this, Connors continued to shout and swear. He was subsequently arrested for disorderly behaviour.
The defendant was taken to a police cell and he spat at one officer and kneed another before attempting to bite and spit at a third.
Connors was also charged with criminal damage after he spat in the cell.
Defence barrister Jonathon Browne stated: “There is a helpful presentence report. We and Mr Connors are indebted to the probation officer in this case.
“From the outset, it must be said that this was abhorrent behaviour towards the PSNI who were only doing their job…..with the spitting it must be pointed out that this was pre-Covid although that distracts only slightly.”
He continued: “The presentence report shows a marked contrast to this particular behaviour. Mr Connors’ general approach to members of the security forces in not negative.
“This is a man who turns 31 next week and he very very little criminal record. In fact the matter for which he appears in court, came about due to a warrant for an offence dating back to January of 2009.”
Mr Browne indicated how his client had informed probation that police have “better things to do than deal with a drunken idiot”.
Putting the matter in context, the barrister explained that Connors had been travelling to the Republic of Ireland following the death of his aunt’s newborn baby.
Mr Browne stated that the defendant had as a result of his arrest been unable to attend the funeral and said that this had a “significant impact” on his client.
He finished by highlighting that probation had assessed Connors as having a low likelihood of re-offending.
District Judge Eamon King stated: “This is a very thorough and appropriate addressing of the concerns of the court. If this matter happened now there is no doubt he would be getting an immediate custodial sentence.
“It is stark and striking that Mr Connors of 31 years of age has one conviction relating to a matter from January 2009, 11 years ago. There was an outstanding arrest warrant and this is how he reacted to police.”
He continued: “Mr Connors has stated that he feels that members of the Traveller community find themselves unduly under police attention but that was not the case during this occurrence.
“However, in his own words he has summed it up how he was on that night and his record is a credit to him.”
Connors was sentenced to four months in prison suspended for 12 months.