Police officer sustained fractured ankle during incident

The courthouse at Bishop Street, Derry.
The courthouse at Bishop Street, Derry.

The actions of a 35-year-old man, which resulted in a police officer sustaining a potentially career ending injury, have been described as ‘appalling’ by a Derry Crown Court judge.

The officer, who suffered a fractured left ankle in the incident, has had metal plates and screws inserted in his ankle and only returned to work almost ten months after he sustained the injury.

The defendant, David James Watson Houston, of Lisnaragh Road in Donemana, pleaded guilty to driving while disqualified, without insurance and while unfit.

He also admitted taking his mother’s car without her permission, failing to provide a specimen of breath and possessing cocaine.

Houston pleaded guilty to further charges of assaulting, resisting and obstructing police officers on October 29, last year.

It was revealed to Derry Crown Court that the offences occurred just four weeks after the 35-year-old had received a suspended jail sentence and a five year driving disqualification for motoring offences.

The court heard that on the night of October 29, members of a mobile police patrol saw a Seat car swerving across the white lines along the Victoria Road.

The driver, who was the defendant, stopped when signalled to do so by the officers.

He was unsteady on his feet, his speech was slurred and there was a strong smell of alcohol coming from his breath. The police officers activated their body worn cameras and when they did so Houston grabbed one of the cameras and pulled it from the officer.

The court heard he slapped the same officer on the face and struggled with two other officers, one of whom he pushed to the ground resulting in the fracture to the officer’s left ankle.

Houston managed to break free from the police and they used CS spray to restrain him but it had little effect. He then walked away with the body worn camera before returning to the scene minutes later where he was arrested.

Following his arrest, police found a bag on the defendant which contained a small quantity of cocaine.

Defence barrister Stephen Chapman said that Houston, who was the victim of a so-called punishment shooting in the past and who had sustained serious injuries in a road traffic accident, was embarrassed when shown the camera footage of his offending.

He said Houston has been in custody since his arrest last October and had completed a number of courses to prepare himself for life outside jail.

Judge Babington adjourned sentencing until later this week and Houston was remanded in custody.