A 35-year old man who scaled a crane in the centre of Belfast then spat at police after his arrest was handed a two-year sentence today.
Michael Scott was detained after climbing onto a crane at the new University of Ulster campus on York Street last May.
Defence barrister Richard McConkey told Judge Donnna McColgan QC the incident occurred during last year's "hard lockdown" and that his client's actions were a "cry for help."
Scott, who at the time was living in a hostel on Bangor's Central Avenue, appeared at Belfast Crown Court via a videolink with Maghaberry.
He has been in custody since his arrest last May, and as his two-year sentence was divided equally between prison and licence, he is now eligible for release.
The PSNI was called to York Street at around 9.40pm on May 11, 2020 after they were informed a man had scaled the crane.
Whilst on the crane, Scott threw several items from the control cab onto the street, and the total amount of criminal damage he caused to the crane and contents amounted to £9,264.
Attempts were made by police to encourage Scott to come down off the crane, and at one point Scott picked up a fire extinguisher and threw it at an officer.
When he was eventually detained several hours later, Scott acted aggressively towards police. He was restrained, and after being placed in the police vehicle he spat on the floor and wall, as well as spitting at a constable.
Scott was arraigned on five offences today, and pleaded guilty to two counts of criminal damage and three counts of assaulting police.
After waiving the right for a pre-sentence report to be compiled, he was also sentenced on the same day.
Before she imposed the two-year sentence, Judge McColgan was told by defence barrister Richard McConkey that Scott's action were a "cry for help" when he was "struggling" during lockdown.
Mr McConkey also revealed that during Scott's year on remand, he had not received a single visit and "has not received any assistance in respect of his mental health."
The barrister said that as soon as Scott was released from custody, he was going to contact both his GP "for some form of assistance" and the Housing Exective "where he will present himself as homeless."
Branding the case as "unusual", Judge McColgan said the amount of damage caused to the crane was "significant", adding spitting at police was an "aggravating factor."