A MAN who assaulted a police officer and stole money from a landlady’s purse has been spared jail due to a brain injury.
Michael Murray (28) of St John’s Wharf, Laganbank Road, Belfast but who now lives in Enniskillen appeared at the local Magistrates Court charged with criminal damage, two counts of assaulting police, resisting police, obstructing police, and theft from a dwelling in relation to two incidents.
On March 11 this year, at approximately 2.10am, police were called to a house at Windmill Heights where a resident, Mr Brown, had been woken by Murray, who had thrown bottles at his house, smashing one of his windows and causing £100 worth of damage.
When police found Murray a short time later he gave them false details twice before telling the officers his name and address. When they tried to arrest him he resisted, spitting and kicking at a police officer. He continued to struggle violently, injuring the officer’s thumb.
Less than a week later, on March 16 at approximately 12 midnight, the landlady of the Greenwood Lodge bed and breakfast in Enniskillen reported the theft of £64 from her purse at the property, where Murray had been staying for three nights.
The court was told Murray, who had been drinking, had returned to the house at around 10pm in an emotional state, so the landlady and her husband brought him into the living room of the house. When they left to bring him tea and toast, Murray took the money from the landlady’s purse.
Murray was later arrested and admitted to stealing the £64, telling police he was very sorry, stating he intended on paying the landlady back.
Defence solicitor Garry Smyth said Murray had £160 in court, to pay compensation for both the broken window and the money taken from the landlady. He said the theft had been “opportunistic” and Murray was remorseful and made full admissions to police.
Mr Smyth said the first incident happened after Murray had been at a friend’s house in Windmill Heights and a neighbour had called around earlier in the night to complain about noise and there was a confrontation. He said Murray accepted it was foolish to throw bottles at the house.
He added Murray, who moved to Enniskillen after Christmas, also regretted his “despicable” behaviour with police when he was arrested.
Mr Smyth said Murray, a father-of-two, had entered an early plea to the charges and explained he had also suffered a significant brain injury in the past as the result of an assault and now had medical difficulties.
District Judge Nigel Broderick said in light of his previous record and the facts in the case, he had “every reason” to send Murray to prison. He said the only reason he wasn’t jailing him was because of his brain injury. He said it was “no excuse” but put in the incidents in context.
Judge Broderick sentenced Murray to a total of five months in prison, suspended for three years, and ordered him to pay back the stolen money, pay for the £100 for the window he broke, and to pay £150 compensation to the officer he injured.
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Posted: 2:00 pm May 28, 2016