Judge had to hear case in courtyard

The courthouse at Bishop Street, Derry.
The courthouse at Bishop Street, Derry.

A special sitting of Londonderry Magistrates Court was convened in the courtyard of Bishop Street Courthouse after a defendant was deemed too dangerous to be brought out of the police van.

Barry Gordon Whittle (34), of Clareen Drive, was kept in the back of a police van and in leg restraints for the brief hearing.

The District Judge, a court clerk, prosecution and defence solicitors were accompanied by five police officers and six prison officers to the courtyard, where they heard that Whittle was charged with disorderly behaviour at The Belfray on March 14, following his mother’s funeral.

An investigating officer told the court she believed she could connect Whittle to the charge. She said the defendant is currently on bail accused of assault and had breached the conditions by consuming alcohol.

The court also heard the defendant has 67 previous convictions.

Opposing bail, the officer said Whittle’s entire family is terrified of him and did not want him back in the family home or bailed to an address in the Strathfoyle area.

The officer added police honestly believed everyone in Strathfoyle would be out to get him. The court also heard police did not believe the proposed bail address was suitable.

The investigating officer applied for a remand in custody for Whittle’s own safety and the safety of others.

Bail was refused and Whittle was remanded in custody until March 22.

The defendant asked if he would be taken to visit his mother’s grave on the way to Maghaberry.