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Former US soldier ran into traffic and assaulted off-duty policeman in 'cry for help', court hears

By Alan Erwin

A former US soldier assaulted a motorist after running out into traffic in a "cry for help", a court heard today.

Alex Widgren also kicked out at the car belonging to the victim, an off-duty policeman, when he braked to offer help on the main Belfast to Carrickfergus Road last month.

The 39-year-old defendant, of Cable Road in Whitehead, Co Antrim, was given a conditional discharge and ordered to pay £500 compensation.

He pleaded guilty to common assault and criminal damage to the motorist's car and watch.

Belfast Magistrates' Court heard Widgren ran out into the middle of the road on March 1, forcing an oncoming car to halt.

Prosecutors said he then kicked the side of the Ford Mondeo, causing a dent in the bodywork.

During a subsequent struggle with the driver he allegedly swung a punch.

Defence counsel Michael Tierney revealed his client previously served with distinction in the US Army.

The barrister said Widgren, who now works as an alarm engineer, seemed to have been attempting self-harm and has apologised for his actions.

The injured party, an off-duty police officer, simply stopped and tried to help, he explained.

Referring to mental health issues, Mr Tierney added: "This is a man who it appears was in the middle of a cry for help."

Judge Oonagh Mullan acknowledged Widgren has issues for which he is seeking help.

"This is a rather unusual set of circumstances given the defendant's good character," she said.

However, the judge also stressed the totally unprovoked nature of the offences.

Directing Widgren to pay compensation, she also imposed a 12-month conditional discharge.

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