Court in Ballymena: Jail term for man who refused to let police into property because of ‘covid concerns’ who later spat in face of a PSNI officer

Ballymena Court

A MAN who claims he refused to let the PSNI into a property because he was concerned they were not taking “adequate” Covid protection measures, on a later date spat in the face of a police officer.

William Johnson (24), of Glentaisie Park in Portrush, was jailed for six months at Coleraine Magistrates Court, sitting in Ballymena, on Monday.

District Judge Peter King said: “Across Northern Ireland there have been a number of cases where a message has been sent out that this sort of behaviour will inevitably attract prison.

“As a society if we are asking members of the emergency services to risk their life and limb protecting us then we are obliged to protect them and anybody who spits on a member of the emergency services during a time of covid is going to prison”.

In relation to May 23 this year the defendant pleaded guilty to being disorderly at Glentaisie Park and obstructing and resisting a police officer.

A defence barrister said it was a “bizarre incident”.

The lawyer said: “At the time he perceived the police officers weren’t taking adequate measures in terms of covid and PPE and felt alarm at their attempt to gain access to the property. Those concerns whether valid or not don’t any way justify the conduct that he displayed towards the police officers”

In relation to August this year the defendant pleaded guilty to assaulting a police officer and resisting another officer as well as causing criminal damage to a CCTV camera and custody cell.

Police had been called to a disturbance in Portstewart where the defendant was shouting and swearing at his mother and was asked to leave.

Johnson refused a lift to Portrush from police and returned to the address and was again disorderly.

When arrested he spat in the face of a police officer who he also kicked on the knee and shin.

The defendant vomited in a police cell and smeared the vomit over a CCTV camera and walls.

The defence barrister said spitting would have been a “factor for judicial concern before the pandemic” but now it “takes on a completely different dimension”.

He said Johnson wished to apologise to the police officer.

The lawyer said the defendant’s conduct in the police cells shows he “may not have been in the right state of mind”

The barrister said Johnson had experienced trauma “recently at the hands of other individuals within the community” and had been “self-medicating with illicit drug use” and alcohol misuse was also a major issue.

After being jailed for six months, bail was fixed for appeal.

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