Heroin addict jailed for begging and assault


A heroin addict who was caught begging in Belfast city centre has been jailed.

Peter Stuart McElroy, 29, appeared before Belfast Magistrates' Court on Thursday.

McElroy, of no fixed abode, was arrested in March, after police were called to Donegall Place following reports of a man begging in the street.

He admitted four charges linked to two separate incidents he was involved in earlier this year.

A prosecuting lawyer said that McElroy was observed approaching a number of females, some of whom opened their bags and gave him items.

When he was arrested and cautioned, he made no reply.

Police were called to the same area of the city centre in April. It was reported that a group of men were acting suspiciously outside McDonald's restaurant.

Officers saw an object being dropped on the ground.

'On waiting list for rehabilitation'

McElroy was standing beside the object, which the court heard was a knife with a four-inch blade, and as he was being arrested, tried to headbutt an officer.

He continued to struggle as he was being handcuffed and tried to spit in an officer's face.

The prosecutor said the incident occurred in a busy area of the city where "members of the public were present, including children."

He was charged with disorderly behaviour, assaulting police and resisting police.

His defence lawyer said his client was a heroin addict who was currently on the waiting list for a place in rehabilitation and that he was not charged with any offences linked to the knife.

The judge handed McElroy concurrent two-month sentences on each of the four charges. A three-month suspended sentence was also activated, meaning he will serve a sentence of three months.

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