Dunmurry man charged with attempting to murder police officers was aiming for "suicide by cop", court hears

The High Court in Belfast
The High Court in Belfast

A MAN accused of rushing at armed police with a knife claimed it was a bid to achieve "suicide by cop", the High Court has heard.

John O'Brien is charged with attempting to murder two officers called out to his home in Belfast last month.

But a judge was told the 42-year-old had tried to get them to shoot him after drinking a bottle of tequila.

Refusing bail, Lord Justice Deeny said: "Both constables concerned showed great restraint in not firing upon him."

O'Brien, a father of three from Hazel Glen in Dunmurry, also faces counts of threatening to kill one of the policemen and possessing an offensive weapon with intent to commit murder.

Officers went to his home on January 2 amid reports of a domestic incident.

It was claimed that he emerged from the house brandishing a knife and rushed at them, trying to stab them.

The officers drew their weapons as he got to within a few feet and cornered one of them in a garden, the court heard.

But despite being ordered to put down the knife O'Brien allegedly pursued them.

At one stage he was said to have been Tasered before arrested.

According to prosecution counsel David McClean the accused claimed to have acted deliberately so police would shoot him.

"He described this as suicide by cop," the barrister added.

"He stated that he didn't remember attempting to stab the officers."

Declan Quinn, defending, agreed with the judge's assessment that his client was "extraordinarily lucky" to still be alive.

"In another jurisdiction... he would not be here today," Mr Quinn submitted.

Athough the defence lawyer accepted an agitated O'Brien came at police with the knife raised above his head, he disputed the alleged motives.

"What he was doing was effectively inviting police to shoot him, this was a suicide attempt," he argued.

With O'Brien described as having issues with drink, drugs and his mental health, the court heard he had managed four years sobriety.

"It wasn't the cannabis that set off these offences, it was the consumption of a bottle of tequila having been abstinent from alcohol for some time," Mr Quinn contended.

However, the judge ruled that O'Brien must remain in custody.

He said: "There's a real danger to the public while this man is in his current unhappy state."