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Suspended sentence for ‘suicidal’ man who punched and bit police trying to take him to hospital

Police observed defendant on the wrong side of the railing on a bridge and he informed them he had suicidal thoughts

A Newry man who assaulted police who tried to take him to the hospital over concerns for his welfare has been handed a suspended sentence.

Court heard the 32-year-old had been observed by officers on the wrong side of the railing on a bridge and had informed them he had suicidal thoughts.

Shea McGivern, of Greenfield Park, pleaded guilty to two counts of assault on police, two counts of resisting police and disorderly behaviour at the city’s Magistrates’ Court on Monday.

It was heard that on March 9, at around teatime, police observed the defendant walking on the wrong side of the railings at the bridge over the river near Trevor Hill, Newry.

Officers approached the defendant as he staggered along Trevor Hill.

They noted that he appeared under the influence of a substance and he told police that he was feeling suicidal.

Officers placed him in a vehicle and conveyed him to his father’s house but due to his condition, his father refused McGivern entry.

Police advised the defendant to attend Daisy Hill Hospital voluntarily but he refused and became agitated.

At 6.50pm, officers arrested McGivern, however, as they tried to place him in a police vehicle he punched one officer and bit another.

Limb restraints were used to get the defendant under control and he was taken to Daisy Hill.

Defence counsel stated: “Mr McGivern struggles with his mental health and prior to this incident he had been drinking.

“He has since joined AA who are helping him with this problem.”

She added: “He has one relevant entry in his record for which he was given a suspended sentence but this offence occurred prior to its imposition.”

District Judge Eamon King stated: “It is obvious from the facts that Mr McGivern had issues prior to police arriving. Police were looking out for his welfare. They took him to family. They took him to A&E.

“This resulted in them being punched, kicked, bit, spat on and everything else.”

He continued: “One thing you can do is stay away from alcohol, when that goes in that’s when the problems start. Prior to last year you hadn’t been in court.”

McGivern was sentenced to four months in prison suspended for two years.

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