Victoria Square thief who assaulted officer jailed

Anthony O'Neill stole clothes and perfume from shops in Victoria Square
Anthony O'Neill stole clothes and perfume from shops in Victoria Square

A thief who attacked a policeman after being taken to hospital has been jailed for five months.

Anthony O’Neill lashed out while being held over the theft of designer clothes and perfume from shops in Belfast’s Victoria Square centre, prosecutors said.

The 21-year-old, of Saul Street in Downpatrick, also punched another officer in a separate incident a month later.

His lawyer told Belfast Magistrates’ Court he remembers nothing about either episode.

O’Neill was arrested after stealing £182 worth of clothes from the Cruise store on September 15 last year.

Searches carried out on him led to the recovery of an £87 bottle of perfume from another nearby shop and a small quantity of cannabis.

A prosecution lawyer said he was taken to the Ulster Hospital where he was swearing, shouting and kicking out, striking a PSNI constable a number of times.

Police were also called to deal with him during a row with his grandfather at an address in Belfast on October 28.

O’Neill shouted obscenities before pushing and punching an officer to the side of the face.

The constable had to attend an accident and emergency department due to swelling from the blow.

O’Neill was convicted of theft, disorderly behaviour, possession of class B drugs, two assaults on police and resisting arrest.

Defence counsel John O’Connor described his client as having borderline learning difficulties and an IQ just high enough to understand court proceedings.

“He has no memory of either of these incidents,” Mr O’Connor said.

District Judge Fiona Bagnall rejected a suggestion that the defendant would be suitable for community service.

With O’Neill in breach of several previous suspended sentences, she said: “I’m afraid he has to now face immediate custody.”

Mrs Bagnall ordered him to serve a total of five months behind bars for all the offences.