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Co Armagh man accused of twice strangling police dog during arrest granted bail

Geddis Conn (54) allegedly blocked the dog’s strike, began to choke the dog and then threw it to the side

Stock photo

Paul HigginsBelfast Telegraph

A man accused of twice strangling a dog has been told to “consider himself lucky” to have been granted bail.

Geddis Conn appeared at Belfast High Court by videolink from prison on Monday. Mr Justice Huddleston told the 54-year-old given the nature of the allegations against him, he should “consider himself lucky that he is getting bail…. be in no doubt on that point.”

Conn, from Deans Road in Lurgan, spent the weekend in custody accused of attempted criminal damage to a police dog, assaulting and resisting police on September 20 this year.

Prosecuting lawyer Higgins told the court how those charges arose when police tried to execute a bench warrant issued for Conn when in his absence, he was convicted in June of driving offences and disorderly behaviour at hospital.

Despite officers routinely calling at addresses connected to Conn and advising his family to tell him to contact police or his solicitor, their efforts proved fruitless until last Thursday when police spotted him driving a telehandler in a field on the Coharra Road in Portadown.

When Conn saw the police, he drove to the far side of the field before jumping out of the telehandler and running away, clambering over a barbed wire fence and “what appeared to be an electric fence” into an adjoining orchard.

“After a lengthy search he was found using a police dog at the base of an apple tree in the orchard and he turned to police aggressively, challenging the dog handler with clenched fists and then began to close in on the officer,” said Mr Higgins.

The court heard that when the officer released the dog, “he managed to block the dog’s first strike and then began to choke the dog with his arms and then threw it to the side.”

Fearing for the safety of himself and the dog, the officer used pepper spray but it had no effect and with Conn “throwing punches” at the officer, his dog tried to intervene but Conn “tried to strangle the dog a second time.”

Having activity his emergency call button, other officers came to help and Conn was eventually restrained.

Describing it as “obviously a completely lawless picture being painted,” Mr Higgins said there were numerous objections to Conn being freed on bail as he had failed to appear for his earlier appearance in June and had been “actively avoiding” police despite knowing they were seeking him.

In addition, Conn had shown a “complete disregard for the law” and had used violence when police tried to execute the warrant so if he was freed, “the police themselves would be at risk if they were to supervise his bail.”

Defence counsel Damien Halleron conceded that “I can’t give any excuse for Mr Conn’s behaviour, all I can say is that he maintains he didn’t know or wasn’t aware” of his convictions or that the police were seeking him.

He submitted that had Conn known, he would have made arrangements to have the warrant executed and would not have reached in the way he allegedly did.

Mr Halleron highlighted that as a farmer and contractor, Conn’s family were helping to care for his 140 beef cattle which will soon need to come in from the fields, arguing that bail conditions could be put in place.

Granting bail in the sum of £2,000 all with a surety, Mr Justice Huddleston ordered Conn to reside at home, to keep a curfew with an electronic tag and to report to police four times a week.

In addition, Conn is also banned from being in any private vehicle other and from having or consuming alcohol.

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