'Dummy machine gun' fired at police

Published Tuesday, 18 December 2012
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A man accused of inciting loyalist flag protestors to riot allegedly fired an imaginary machine gun at police, a court has heard.

'Dummy machine gun' fired at police
It follows a night of trouble across NI. (© UTV)

Brian McLean was remanded in custody on Tuesday amid claims that he also failed to remove a mask during trouble in Carrickfergus, Co Antrim, on Monday night.

Meanwhile two other men accused of obstructing roads in Belfast were granted bail but subjected to afternoon curfews.

Stephen Smith and Tyler Thompson must both be at home by 4pm to keep them away from any further rush-hour blockades.

All three accused appeared before Belfast Magistrates' Court following another night of disorder linked to protests against restrictions on flying the union flag at City Hall.

McLean, 30, of Maple Gardens, Carrickfergus, faces charges of inciting others to use riotous behaviour, disorderly behaviour and failing to remove an item suspected of being worn to conceal his identity.

A detective constable who opposed his bail application said police had come under attack in the town.

He suggested that keeping McLean would deter others from becoming involved in trouble.

Defence solicitor Seamus Leonard stressed his client was not charged with actual rioting or accused of throwing anything at police.

Mr Leonard said it was claimed that a crowd moved away from the scene were being waved back by McLean.

"This is a man who was drunk and then with a dummy machine gun is shooting at police. That is what is alleged," the lawyer argued.

However, District Judge Fiona Bagnall refused bail due to the risk of re-offending, remanding McLean in custody until 2 January.

Smith, 25, of Matilda Avenue, Belfast, and Thompson, 18, from Blythe Street in the city, are both charged with failing to remove disguises and obstructing roads.

The court heard how Smith was arrested in connection with a protest at Great Victoria Street on Monday night.

A PSNI constable objected to his release, stressing the disruption and financial losses being inflicted by the ongoing disorder.

"At the minute we don't see any light at the end of the tunnel," he told the court.

A defence lawyer said Smith went to the scene as a spectator, adding that there was no violence at that stage.

"He stumbled across the situation. he accepts he didn't remove himself and leave," she said.

Granting bail to both Smith and Thompson, Judge Bagnall said each case had to be decided on its merits.

She imposed a maximum 12-hour curfew on both accused, starting from 4pm.Judge Bagnall explained the unusual prohibition was due to protests being staged during rush-hour traffic.

Smith and Thompson were also each banned from having any flags or going within 500 metres of demonstrations or parades.

Both men will appear again in court in eight weeks time.

© UTV News
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