Belfast Telegraph

Former soldier with PTSD jailed for St Patrick's Day attacks on police and smashing mother's car

By Alan Erwin

A former soldier diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder has been jailed for St Patrick's Day attacks on police and smashing his mother's car.

James Burns head-butted one of five officers it took to restrain him after they were called to his family home in Newtownabbey, Co Antrim.

The 23-year-old, who served in Afghanistan, was sentenced to four months in prison after admitting charges of criminal damage, two counts of assault on police, and resisting arrest.

Belfast Magistrates' Court heard a neighbour phoned 999 on Tuesday night claiming Burns was "going mental", smashing windows on the Jeep Cherokee and fighting with relatives in the street.

A prosecutor said officers who went to his Hydepark Manor address requested back-up because of the defendant's reputation for aggression towards police.

The court heard Burns was initially calm at the scene but then stated: "I'm going to kill each and every one of you."

As police tried to handcuff him he started struggling and then head-butted one officer in the face.

According to the prosecution lawyer Burns spat at another officer and kicked him on the leg.

"It took five police officers to restrain him as he was kicking out and struggling on the ground," he added.

Defence counsel Kelly Doherty described her client as having a "tragic background" involving PTSD.

She said: "He served with the commandos in Afghanistan and has been significantly traumatised by the events he witnessed there."

Burns has struggled badly with civilian life since leaving the military, the court heard.

According to Ms Doherty one psychiatrist recommended a form of treatment involving the repetition of lights on the eyes.

But because the defendant has been in and out of custody he keeps slipping down the waiting list.

"Being in custody will at least afford him an opportunity to try and get his head straight," the barrister added.

Imposing a total of four months in jail for the offences, District Judge George Conner said Burns' behaviour warranted immediate custody.

Belfast Telegraph Digital


From Belfast Telegraph