Belfast Telegraph

Man attacked police officers 'fearing they were paramilitaries'

By Alan Erwin

A man who tried to gouge a PSNI officer's eyes out feared he was being abducted by paramilitaries, a court has heard.

William McCartan was suffering a psychotic episode when he attacked the policeman and head-butted a colleague, his barrister said.

Deferring sentence for the 44-year-old to obtain medical help, a judge warned that any further offending would lead to immediate imprisonment.

McCartan, of Annadale Flats in Belfast, launched his attack after police were called to his estranged wife's home in Whitehead on February 26.

The city's magistrates court was told she wanted him out of the house because he was "going mad".

A prosecution lawyer said McCartan became aggressive when the officers found him in a bedroom. "He head-butted a constable and attempted to gouge the sergeant's eyes out," she added.

During the struggle McCartan damaged a police radio before being restrained.

"The sergeant sustained a bite to his hand and most of his right thumb nail was pulled off while dealing with the defendant," the prosecutor explained.

McCartan claimed to have no memory of the incident due to alcohol consumption, but pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm, two counts of assault on police, resisting arrest and criminal damage.

Defence barrister Michael Boyd described it as a "dreadful incident" that had left his client ashamed, but stressed McCartan had no history of violence. The defendant was instead in the grip of delusional behaviour, having been diagnosed with a syndrome likened to schizophrenia, the court heard.

Mr Boyd said: "Drink taken earlier that night triggered some psychotic incident.

"He believed they weren't real police officers, that they were paramilitaries there to take him away. That's what was in his mind."

Counsel added that McCartan is now in a period of complete abstinence and in "desperate" need of medical help.

District Judge Fiona Bagnall put sentencing back for nine months to provide an opportunity for professional assistance.

She warned: "If a report comes back to say he has either indulged in further self-medication or that he has offended again... he will be in immediate custody."

Belfast Telegraph

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