Claimed he fled hostel over ‘drugs lifestyle’ fears

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A man who was ‘at large’ from police for a number of months claimed he fled his bail address - a hostel - because he didn’t want to be drawn back into a drug lifestyle.

He had been granted bail on October 20 last year and when police finally caught up with Gary McDonnell (20), of Birch Hill Park, on January 18 this year he had jumped out of a first floor window to evade officers.

At Ballymena Magistrates Court on Thursday, a police officer objected to McDonnell being released on bail.

At the same court last week McDonnell pleaded guilty to assaulting a nurse and being disorderly at Antrim Area Hospital last August and had that case adjourned for the preparation of a pre-sentence report. He also admitted assaulting a police officer on the same date.

He is further charged with making a threat to kill his brother and assaulting his mother on July 12 last year.

He is also accused of damaging a window in a back door belonging to his mum; contravening a Non-Molestation Order and possessing an offensive weapon, a knife, at Rathmore Gardens, Antrim.

Defence barrister Michael Smith said the defendant’s brother had made a withdrawal statement and his client’s mother had indicated she did not wish to give evidence.

Mr Smith said after being bailed to a hostel his client left because he didn’t want to be get mixed up with drugs.

Mr Smith added: “It appears the family group has reconciled”.

District Judge Peter King refused bail saying the fact that McDonnell had been “at large” had not filled him with confidence and the case was adjourned to February 16.