‘Covid’ man spat in eye of police officer

A man who claimed he had Covid spat into the eye of a police officer after threatening members of the PSNI with a ‘ceramic candle holder’.

Friday, 23rd July 2021, 3:55 pm

Kurt Graham (24), of Main Street in Ahoghill, was sentenced at Antrim Magistrates Court, sitting in Ballymena, for assaulting four police officers; being disorderly; possessing a candle holder as an offensive weapon and causing criminal damage to a police cell van.

A prosecutor said police were called in connection with a domestic matter in December last year and found the defendant at a communal stairwell with a ‘ceramic candle holder in his hand”.

She added: “He was extremely aggressive and was threatening to use that object to injure police officers”. The defendant was “talked into putting” it down but Graham was still “very aggressive”. An attempt was made to apply handcuffs but Graham resisted and, the prosecutor said, struck the officer a number of times on the face and kneed his body. CS spray was used but Graham continued to shout and swear. The prosecutor told the court Graham then “tried to spit at police, stating that he had Covid-19”. The court heard he spat on an officer’s face; pushed another officer and attempted to spit at a third officer. After being removed from flats he continued to shout and swear on the way to a cell van and then spat in an officer’s face with the spit landing on her face mask “and in her left eye”. In a cell van, Graham continued to spit and it had to be taken out of action for a deep clean.

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A defence barrister said Graham had alcohol consumed and was behaving “erratically” when police arrived and is remorseful. He said Graham had not intended to attack officers with the candle holder but the defendant now understood it could have been perceived as such. The lawyer said the defendant had a mouth injury which was “bleeding quite profusely” and when combined with the effects of CS spray said that may have “contributed to the spitting” which he said was “reckless rather than deliberate”. The defendant himself told the court “three bottles” of CS spray had been used on him and said after the incident he had to get medical attention for injuries. He asked why there was only “footage” of him but none of “twelve officers stripping me naked” with a “knee on my neck on a kerb”. The defendant added that he was “sorry for what I have done”. He said he had been trying to improve his life. District Judge Nigel Broderick told the defendant “all that probably would mean more to me and the court if it wasn’t the first time you have been before the court”. The judge said the court ahd “tried every option” with the defendant - Probation, Community Service and suspended sentences but none of it seemed to work.

Regarding the spitting, Judge Broderick said it was a “serious matter in the middle of a pandemic”. The defendant was given a four months jail term but was released on his own bail of £500 pending appeal.