05 Oct 2022

Derry court hears police officer had metal plates inserted into ankle due to injury suffered during scuffle with drunk driver

A Derry court has heard how a police officer suffered a potentially career ending injury after being pushed to the ground by a 35-year-old man who had been stopped for drunk driving. 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 two months ago, almost ten months after he sustained the injury. The defendant, thirty-five years old David James Watson Houston, a farm labourer from Lisnaragh Road in Donemana, admitted charges of driving while disqualified, without insurance and when unfit due to his alcohol consumption. He also pleaded guilty to taking his mother's car without her permission, failing to provide a breath specimen, assaulting, resisting and obstructing police officers and possessing a small amount of cocaine. Houston committed the offences last October 29, just four weeks after he had received a suspended jail sentence and a five year driving disqualification for previous motoring offences. A prosecution barrister told Judge Philip Babington that on the night of l 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. 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. He then slapped the same officer on the face and struggled with two 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. Houston then walked away with the body worn camera before returning to the scene minutes later where he was arrested by police reinforcements. After his arrest the police found a bag on Houston which contained a small quantity of cocaine. Defence barrister Stephen Chapman said that Houston, who had previously been shot by Republican paramilitaries 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 level two maths and had enrolled in a bookkeeping course in order to prepare himself for life outside of jail. He will be sentenced on Thursday.

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