Published Wednesday, 03 October 2012
Occupy Belfast protesters take over a building in Belfast in January. (© Pacemaker)
Barry McCrory's alleged demand for cash at a city centre Santander branch was connected to his role in the Occupy movement, a judge was told.
His lawyer said his actions were simply a form of protest against the banks.
McCrory, 34, of no fixed address in Derry, denies a charge of attempted robbery.
He was refused bail due to prosecution fears about any further offences being committed.
The court heard that McCrory went into Santander on Royal Avenue on 23 December last year and handed a note to a cashier at the counter.
It read: "This is a robbery. Open the cash."
He is alleged to have then twice shouted "Read the f****** letter" before leaving empty-handed.
He was arrested last week after his fingerprint was found to match a print on the note.
Defence barrister David Heraghty disputed the charge against his client, arguing there was no form of threat.
He revealed that the accused was part of the anti-capitalist Occupy movement, who was among protestors camped out in tents near St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast last year.
McCrory accepted going into the Santander branch but denies intending to put staff in fear of violence or to steal money, the court heard.
Mr Heraghty said: "He was making the assertion... that the banks had robbed people and they ought to open the cash tills to the public.
"It doesn't sound like a genuine attempted robbery. Where was the threat?"
Mr Justice Maguire challenged his submission on the basis of the evidence before him.
But Mr Heraghty continued: "What he said to police in interview (was) that it was a prank.
"He was involved in the Occupy Belfast movement and was simply making a political point."
Refusing bail, the judge held that the prosecution had established enough grounds for McCrory remaining in custody.