Policewoman injured after challenging Romanian ‘serial beggar’ in Belfast

The incident happened in Royal Avenue
The incident happened in Royal Avenue

A policewoman suffered a suspected broken wrist after challenging a serial beggar in the centre of Belfast, a court heard today.

She was taken to hospital for treatment to injuries sustained on Monday, a judge was told.

Details emerged as Romanian national Augustin Lacatus appeared back in the dock - just days after receiving a suspended sentence for a similar offence under the Vagrancy Act.

The 38-year-old, with an address at Northbrook Street in Belfast, faces fresh charges of begging and assault on police.

A defence lawyer indicated he will be making admissions.

Belfast Magistrates’ Court heard Lacatus allegedly pushed the policewoman to the ground during an encounter on Royal Avenue.

She is undergoing assessments in an accident and emergency department for a suspected broken wrist.

Seeking bail, Lacatus’ solicitor Niall O’Neill said his client’s extended family were prepared to pay compensation to the officer.

District Judge Fiona Bagnall questioned how someone in the dock for begging could produce money.

Mr O’Neill explained that Lacatus only took to the streets because cash owed to him had not been paid.

“He’s now in a position to put forward funds,” the lawyer added.

But Judge Bagnall replied that the money was not mentioned when Lacatus appeared before her last Friday over a previous begging incident.

Refusing bail, she said: “It’s the fourth occasion in a year, and it’s now escalating where a police officer has been injured.”

Lacatus was remanded in custody to appear again later this month.