Man accused of biting solicitor and police officers granted bail

Belfast High Court pic - UTV
Belfast High Court

A solicitor was bitten on the forehead amid attempts to prevent him from leaving work in his car, the High Court heard today.

Prosecutors claimed Paudraig O’Hagan, 32, launched the attack after seizing the keys to the victim’s vehicle in the centre of Newry.

O’Hagan, a 32-year-old shop manager, is also accused of biting and spitting on PSNI officers during the incident on January 12.

The defendant, of Chestnut Grove in Newry, faces charges of common assault, theft, criminal damage and two counts of assault on police.

He was granted bail after a judge was told that he “unreservedly apologises” for his alleged behaviour during the chance encounter.

The victim had been targeted by a stranger as he sat in his car at Church Avenue in the city.

It was claimed that O’Hagan opened the door, declared that he wasn’t going to let him drive, and took the keys from the ignition.

He also grabbed the motorist’s legs in a bid to remove his shoes before the two men began to grapple, according to the prosecution.

A Crown lawyer said: “The injured party alleged that he was then bitten on the forehead.”

She claimed O’Hagan struck the window of the car several times, kicked off a wing mirror and threw files and a laptop on the ground.

Police called to the scene found the victim bleeding from a bite mark to the forehead for which he sought hospital treatment.

When O’Hagan was arrested he allegedly spat on one officer’s face and bit another constable on the leg, leaving a visible mark.

Defence counsel Damien Halleron said his client has limited memory of the events due to an addiction to alcohol.

The barrister stressed, however, that O’Hagan had expressed regret after details of the incident were set out.  

“The alleged victim in that case is a well-known individual in the south Down area, he’s a member of the legal profession,” Mr Halleron disclosed.

“This seems to be a case where the two have come together by sheer coincidence in the middle of Newry late in the evening as the alleged victim was leaving his place of work.

“That is tragic and this applicant apologises unreservedly.”

He told the court O’Hagan was seeking release from custody to resume his managerial job at a phone repair shop.

Granting bail under strict conditions, Mr Justice Fowler indicated it was to give the accused a chance to obtain help for his alcoholism, return to work and provide for his children.

The judge warned: “If he refuses to take that help… he will end up losing his family and his job. He is on a precipice.”

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