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Engineer avoids jail for police punch

By Alan Erwin

A civil engineer who struck out at a police officer dealing with St Patrick's Day disorder in south Belfast has avoided being sent to jail.

Conrad Martin Sheerin's four-month prison sentence was suspended after a judge was told he came from a "hard-working, hard-playing culture."

The 25-year-old, who is from Foreglen Road in Dungiven, Co Londonderry, was arrested during trouble on March 17 last year.

Belfast Magistrates' Court heard police were on patrol in the Holyland district to deal with public disorder surrounding the annual celebrations.

The mainly student area has been plagued by anti-social behaviour in recent years on St Patrick's Day.

Officers spotted Sheerin apparently fighting with another man. It was claimed that he then broke away and ran towards Carmel Street.

He tried to get away from a pursuing policeman by punching out, the court heard.

They both fell to the ground before Sheerin got back up and headed for Stranmillis Embankment where he was stopped again. The PSNI constable who gave chased suffered an injury to his knee.

Sentencing on charges of assault on police and resisting arrest had been deferred to determine if Sheerin complied with a previously imposed probation order.

Defence counsel Liam McStay argued that a positive report had been prepared on his client, who he described as working at a high level as a civil engineer.

District Judge Fiona Bagnall said the behaviour was "at odds" with Sheerin's professional background.

Agreeing with her assessment, Mr McStay accepted his client has a lot to lose.

He added: "It's a hard-working, hard-playing culture, this is the Holylands on St Patrick's Day."

Imposing a four-month sentence on Sheerin, Mrs Bagnall suspended the term for 18 months.

She said: "He's getting too old for this type of behaviour, he's 25 now and a professional.

"He really needs to grow up."

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