Homeless man flew into rage after police woke him up to offer help on cold night

Sunderland Magistrates Court.
Sunderland Magistrates Court.

A homeless man became abusive to police who offered him shelter for the night after finding him sleeping rough in Sunderland city centre.

Bernard Conlin had found himself on the streets after falling out with his partner and was camped out at Park Lane, Sunderland magistrates heard.

But Conlin – said to be “nice and snuggled” in his sleeping bag shortly before midnight in January 20 – reacted in anger when he was woken by police.

Prosecutor Lee Poppett said: “The officer has attended Park Lane at shortly before midnight.

“He’s seen Mr Conlin sleeping in a sleeping bag and there are bags around him.

“He was concerned about his safety as he looked somewhat vulnerable.

“When he asked for Mr Conlin’s name, he became somewhat abusive, saying ‘you know my name’.”

Conlin used a number of derogatory terms, the court heard.

He then told the officer he was homeless with no place to stay.

Mr Poppett said: “He offered for him to stay in the police station office, to be safe and warm for the night.”

However, the court heard Conlin swore at the officer, before lashing out and punching some shutters.

He continued to swear, while there were members of the public present, and he was arrested.

Conlin, of Ramsey Close, Gilesgate, Durham, admitted causing harassment, alarm or distress.

He has 58 previous offences on his record.

Brian Chapman, defending, said Conlin has a number of difficulties, including ADHD, anxiety, depression, a personality disorder and anger management issues.

“The upshot in all this is he finds it difficult to maintain relationships,” Mr Chapman said. “For a number of years, he’s found himself in and out of relationships.

“It’s not the first time he’s found himself sleeping rough.

“He’s nice and snuggled up in his sleeping bag – he’s fast asleep.

“The police wake him up, he’s shaken up, they shine a light in his eyes.

“He believes the officer’s offer of accommodation was just to get rid of him, out of the city centre.”

Mr Chapman added that Conlin is now back living with his partner, with whom he has an “on-off” relationship.

He was fined £40 with a £30 surcharge, which will be added to the excess of £3,000 Conlin already owes the court.