Northern Ireland news

Co Fermanagh farmer accused of 'assaulting the police for fun' refused bail

A farmer from Co Fermanagh accused of "assaulting the police for fun" has been refused bail.

Hugh John Elliott, from Baragh Gardens in Ballinamallard, has been in custody since May 20 after he was arrested on suspicion on driving offences.

The 37-year old disqualified driver denied he was behind the wheel of a white van in Trillick - despite being identified by a police officer who has known him for 20 years.

A application to release Elliott - who has 95 criminal convictions - on bail was made at the High Court, and refused by Mr Justice O'Hara.

Before reaching his decision, the Judge heard from both the Crown and defence.

The court was told Elliott is facing two sets of charges linked to alleged incidents in May of this year. He is accused of assaulting a female police officer in Enniskillen on May 5, and of driving offences in Trillick on May 20.

A prosecuting barrister said Elliott was seen by officers at Castle Street in Enniskillen in the early hours of May 5. He was wanted for arrest on other offences, and when officers tried to arrest him, he resisted and became verbally and physically aggressive.

The prosecutor said Elliott is then accused of pushing a female officer who fell on her back onto the road. She did not sustain a serious injury, but could not complete the rest of her shift.

He was subsequently released, and on May 20, police in Trillick were informed he was driving a white van. Officers went to a house he is linked to awaiting his arrival, and as the white van approached the property, the vehicle "slowed to a walking pace."

The van - which the police say was driven by Elliott - passed officers but failed to stop, then drove in a loop on surrounding roads. When the van finally came to a halt, officers saw Elliott trying to climb out the passenger side.

The prosecuting barrister said that when approached, Elliott's speech was slurred and he smelled of alcohol. He is further accused of spitting in his cell and refusing to give a breath sample for analysis.

The Crown barrister said Elliott was denying he drove the van and claimed he was a passenger - despite being recognised by a police officer who has known the accused for 20 years.

A defence barrister said his client was a farmer and self-employed builder who has expressed concerns about his small herd of cattle whilst he is in custody.

The barrister revealed Elliott is "using his time usefully" on remand, and has attended a course in respect of driving offences. He also said his client had significant problems with alcohol, and was a "different man when he does not have drink on board."

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