Man convicted of assaulting police officers at Antrim Coast Road receives suspended prison sentence

Man convicted of assaulting police officers at Antrim Coast Road receives suspended prison sentence

A MAN convicted of assaulting police at the Coast Road near Ballygalley has received a suspended prison term but intends to appeal.

Karl Houston (57), with an address listed as Millvale, Ballygalley, had previously been convicted in his absence.

He was convicted of assaulting two officers in relation to June 6, 2021.

He was also convicted of resisting one of the officers; failing to provide a preliminary breath sample and being in charge of a vehicle whilst having excess alcohol in his breath.

He has now been present at Ballymena Magistrates Court for sentencing.

The court heard the defendant's vehicle was parked on the Coast Road around 8.40pm with the keys in the ignition.

Nobody was in the vehicle but nearby, Houston was sitting on a "steep slope" near the sea.

He was slurring his words; "appeared intoxicated" and was "stumbling back and forward when attempting to stand".

The defendant declined to take a preliminary breath test.

A prosecutor said the defendant "threatened police, saying he would 'throw them into the water' if they tried to bring him over the wall to safety".

An earlier court was told a police officer said the defendant said he had been "collecting seaweed".

The prosecutor told the court this week police took the defendant to the ground "in order to prevent him harming himself in reaching the water".

The prosecutor said the defendant continued to "try and drag himself towards the water and dragging the police officer with him".

The court was told he was "threatened" with "spray" but continued to "lash out at police" and "about two metres before the water's edge" police were able to put on handcuffs and limb restraints.

The defendant had an alcohol in breath reading of 87 at a police station - the legal drink drive limit is 35.

Convicting the defendant of the charges at the earlier hearing, Deputy District Judge Philip Mateer had said he had watched police bodyworn footage and it showed that officers spent some time with the defendant who then assaulted an officer.

He had said officers feared they were going to be possibly "moved towards the water down the slope".

The judge also had said it was "quite clear" the defendant failed to provide a preliminary breath test and that he had excess alcohol in his breath.

Judge Mateer had said given the location; the absence of anyone else nearby; the presence of a vehicle and the defendant living some distance away meant Houston was in charge of the vehicle to get to and from the scene.

At court this week a defence lawyer said the defendant had previously been convicted on the charges in his absence at court and he wished to appeal.

At the sentencing court this week, Deputy District Judge Noel Dunlop, handed down a two months prison term, suspended for two years; banned the defendant from driving for a year and fined him £400.

The defendant had bail for appeal fixed in the sum of £300 and he is allowed to drive pending appeal.