Policeman needed eye rinse at hospital after being hit with blood-filled saliva in Ballymena

Ballymena Magistrates Court

A POLICEMAN needed an eye rinse in hospital after being hit by blood-filled saliva in Ballymena from a man who had said: “I’ll bite the lip clean off myself and spit in your face”.

Neil Henry (27), whose address was given as no fixed abode, was disorderly after police were called to the Lighthouse Hostel at Linenhall Street in Ballymena on March 12 this year.

At Ballymena Magistrates Court on Thursday the defendant appeared via video link from prison and admitted charges of being disorderly; assaulting two police officers; resisting an officer and causing criminal damage to a police car and cell van.

A prosecutor said that at 5.30pm on March 12 police were called to the hostel where Henry had tipped over bins and smashed a cup.

The defendant began shouting and swearing at police in the vicinity of the hostel whilst saying: “I’ll bite the lip clean off myself and spit in your face”.

He lashed out and spat in the direction of two PSNI officers. Police could see blood in the saliva and it hit one officer in the eye resulting in him having to go to hospital for an eye rinse “and have bloods taken”.

The prosecutor said Henry “proceeded to bite and spit on” the seat of a police vehicle and whilst being removed he struggled and CS spray and limb restraints had to be used.

He was then taken to a police cell van where he spat approximately 15 times on the way to custody.

A defence solicitor said the defendant had “no recollection” of the “particularly nasty” incident but was pleading guilty and wished to apologise.

He said Henry had “some learning difficulties” and had grown up in foster care.

The lawyer said the defendant has often been “the victim of street violence” and has difficulties with alcohol and “this incident was alcohol-fuelled”.

The solicitor said there was no excuse for the “thoroughly reprehensible” behaviour.

The court heard the defendant had 118 previous convictions.

District Judge Nigel Broderick said it had been “deplorable behaviour”.

He added: “Spitting at anybody in the middle of a pandemic is a matter of great concern.

“The police officer had to go to hospital in relation to the fact that you did spit into his eye which is totally reprehensible”.

Henry was jailed for eight months.

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