Court hears man hiding in undergrowth fought and injured police dog which had tracked him down in County Antrim

Court hears man hiding in undergrowth fought and injured police dog which had tracked him down in County Antrim

A POLICE dog suffered a cut to its mouth and was limping after being kicked by a man it found hiding in undergrowth after he had escaped from officers by bolting across four busy lanes of traffic at the Lisnevenagh Road dual-carriageway between Antrim and Ballymena.

David Robert Thompson (39), of Southland Dale in Belfast, came to police attention at 10.15am on July 21 this year.

He appeared via video link at Antrim Magistrates Court, sitting in Ballymena, and admitted charges including causing 'damage' to the police dog; possessing a knuckle duster as an offensive weapon and traffic offences including driving whilst unfit.

A charge of causing 'unnecessary suffering' to the police dog had  previously been withdrawn by prosecutors.

A prosecutor said police received a report of a van driving "erratically" and it had reportedly mounted a grass verge.

Police located the van at a filling station and saw Thompson being unsteady on his feet and his speech was slurred.

The prosecutor said the defendant said he had suffered bleeds to the brain and was getting help for an "addiction to medication".

Due to his demeanour police suspected he was under the influence of drugs and when he was being arrested and police attempted to put handcuffs on him he "ran across the dual-carriageway, at the time very busy with fast-moving traffic, and narrowly avoided being hit by a vehicle".

Police were unable to locate him and a police helicopter and dog were tasked and he was found hiding in undergrowth.

"A brief struggle ensued with the police dog and the dog was struck causing minor damage to it's front left leg. The dog also bit the defendant because he was acting aggressively with the dog handler," the prosecutor said.

The court heard the dog "suffered a limp and had bleeding from its mouth" by being kicked by the defendant.

The prosecutor said the dog handler said when located Thompson had "struck out" and kicked the dog's muzzle and had "buried himself in brambles and was impossible to see".

When bitten by the dog, the defendant "began to strike out and fight with the dog," the prosecutor said.

Thompson was taken to Antrim Area Hospital because of the dog bite and when a knuckleduster was found in his pocket he said he was a painter and used it to "punch through walls".

A defence barrister said the defendant has been trying to tackle his addiction to drugs and a pre-sentence report was "relatively positive".

At court a problem developed with the defendant's video link and District Judge Nigel Broderick adjourned the case to November 23 for the defendant to be present in court.