A heroin addict with a knife in his clothing ran into hospital grounds in Ballycastle when told by police he was going to be taken to a station and strip-searched.
When he was caught up and taken to the ground, Connor James Kevin Black (30), of Mayo Drive, Ballycastle, bit a police officer who had put his hand in the defendant’s mouth to retrieve a heroin wrap.
The defendant previously pleaded guilty to the three charges he faced - having heroin; possessing a knife in a public place and assaulting a police officer.
A prosecutor told Coleraine Magistrates Court on Monday that police on mobile patrol in Ballycastle on Tuesday, November 28 last year saw the defendant and stopped him for a search.
When told he was going to be taken to a police station to be strip-searched he ran off in front of traffic.
The prosecutor said Black was “pulling out pieces of tissue paper” from the back of his jeans as he fled into the grounds of a hospital.
The defendant put a wrap in his mouth and after being taken to the ground an officer forced his mouth open and Black bit him although there was no injury.
A lock knife was recovered from the defendant and Black later told the police officer: “I’m sorry, I didn’t know I was going to bite you.”
The court heard the heroin was worth £110 and that Black said he was an addict and it was for his own personal use.
He told police he carried the knife for his own personal protection in case he was attacked.
A defence lawyer said his client had been off drugs for a long period before a “traumatic” incident in his life.
In relation to the knife, the lawyer said Black thought it was legal to carry because it was “so small”.
The lawyer said since the incident the defendant no longer carried a knife and he had also abstained from drugs.
The legal representative said the biting incident arose as the officer’s fingers had been forced into Black’s mouth and there was an element of choking.
The lawyer said Black had shown “genuine remorse”.
He added: “In thirty years of practice this is one of the most distressed clients I have had.”
The lawyer said the defendant was “crying out” for assistance from probation.
District Judge Peter King said he was a “big fan” of the work done by the ‘Railway Street’ addiction service in Ballymena and he encouraged the defendant to take their advice and help.
He ordered Black to do 75 hours of community service and also placed him on probation for a year with a condition that he gets help for his addiction. The judge said if the defendant had broken the skin of the police officer with the bite he would have sent Black to prison.