Mum accused of riot punch bailed

Mum accused of riot punch bailed

A woman accused of trying to punch a police inspector during rioting in east Belfast believed a man was trapped between two PSNI Landrovers, the High Court heard.

Katherine McConnell's barrister on Friday said she had only been out on the streets at the time to look for her teenage son.

The 41-year-old, of Downpatrick Street, Belfast, denies charges of assault and obstructing police connected to disorder in the city on Monday night.

Granting her application for bail, a judge warned that his decision should not be used as a precedent for any other alleged troublemakers seeking release amid the ongoing trouble linked to union flag protests.

Mr Justice Maguire stressed that his ruling was based entirely on her role as the mother of a vulnerable 16-year-old boy.

McConnell was arrested as violence flared in the Lower Newtownards Road area following the break-up of a peaceful demonstration march to City Hall.

Fiona O'Kane, prosecuting, said the accused was allegedly intercepted as she tried to swing a punch at the inspector during attempts to arrest a rioter.

"Her account of the exchange with police is that she described seeing a man she thought was trapped between two police vehicles," the barrister said.

"She ran towards the police and attempted to plead with them to leave the male as she thought he was injured."

She denied any attempt to strike a police officer or prevent them from effecting an arrest."

Defence counsel Michael Boyd stressed that McConnell had been at home and not involved with the protests.

He told the court his client ventured out, still wearing her pyjamas, to look for her son who had left to go to a snooker club.

"When she saw a man apparently trapped, with his arms flailing, she believed he was being squeezed between two Landrovers," Mr Boyd said.

"She is not someone alleged in any way, shape or form to have been observed doing anything like throwing missiles."

Mr Justice Maguire questioned her decision to allow her child out amid the continued disorder.

He said: "If I were a parent living in this area and I had a son in the position of this applicant's son I want to make it quite clear there would be no question of the son being out on the streets at all and therefore there would be no reason for me to be out looking for him."

However, the judge agreed to bail on condition that McConnell abides by a night-time curfew.

He added: "I'm deciding this application entirely on the personal circumstance of this applicant.

"I do not wish this case to be deployed in any other case as a basis for arguing ... that any other person charged with public disorder in the current circumstances ought to be granted bail."


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