Homeless man ripped hair from cop's beard in Mansfield

Latest reports from Mansfield Magistrates Court
Latest reports from Mansfield Magistrates Court

A homeless man who went into a Mansfield pub ripped hair from the beard of a police officer who came to arrest him, a court heard.

Staff at the Swan pub, on Church Street, reported Martin Neil after he breached a court order banning him from the town centre, on April 22.

When he was located later on, he became aggressive and threw a number of punches before yanking at the officer’s beard, said prosecutor Leanne Townsheand.

“Other officers had to restrain him on the floor,” she said. “He continued being abusive and kicked out and spat at the police constable.

“At the station he was asked for a saliva sample for a drugs test, but refused that and an interview.”

Michael Little, mitigating, said it was “an unfortunately-timed incident” because Neil had been complying with probation officers and “his issues are starting to be addressed.”

He said the criminal behaviour order, imposed in January 2016, excluded Neil from soup kitchens and other agencies, which he relies upon because he has been homeless for four or five years.

Mr Little said alcohol was an issue, and since being released from prison on April 12, he had been sleeping in a corner of the Tesco carpark and begging for cash to buy drink.

He said two sleeping bags had been stolen from him and he now has “literally nothing to his name.”

Neil was taken to the floor “aggressively” and had visible marks on his body, Mr Little added.

Neil, 43, admitted assault and breaching the order, when he appeared at Mansfield Magistrates Court, on Wednesday.

District judge Jonathan Taaffe said: “It’s unfortunate that the recall to prison was put in place because it seems you were making some small steps towards rehabilitation.

“Nevertheless, what we have here is a deliberate breach of a criminal behaviour order by going to a public house, followed by a sustained attack on a police officer.”

Neil was given 20 weeks in prison, and ordered to pay a £115 government surcharge.