Man refused bail after arrest in city despite exclusion order

Symbol of law and justice in the empty courtroom, law and justice concept.
Symbol of law and justice in the empty courtroom, law and justice concept.

A 25-years-old man, arrested by police in Creggan two weeks ago on suspicion of driving while stoned, was in breach of bail conditions explicitly barring him from the city, Derry Magistrate’s Court has heard.

Jonathan Michael Simpson, originally from the Brandywell but until recently resident of a Simon Community hostel in North Belfast, appeared at the court via videolink from Maghaberry.

Simpson was applying to be bailed while he waits to answer a series of charges, including a count of common assault alleged to have occurred on November 5, 2016; a count of attempting to pervert the course of justice alleged to have occurred on November 6, 2016; and a series of driving offences alleged to have occurred on Queen’s Quay on July 29, 2016.

However, a police constable opposed bail, explaining the defendant has been in custody since being arrested on April 7, and now faces a series of fresh charges. He said police on mobile patrol observed a Silver Ford Focus travelling in the Creggan area and upon conducting a vehicle check found the car had no valid insurance attached. The officer told the court that police followed the car into Culdaff Gardens, which due to the hour, approximately 3.15pm, was populated by school children, and placed their own vehicle between it and the entrance to ensure the occupants couldn’t escape.

At this point three occupants fled the vehicle and ran off while the defendant was observed moving from the driver’s side over into the passenger’s side before getting out of the vehicle, the police constable said. Simpson was arrested on suspicion of driving without insurance. Police found the defendant pale. His eyes were enlarged and his hands were clammy, the officer explained. A search of the vehicle uncovered 11 grammes of herbal cannabis with a street value of around £250, the court was told. Simpson was arrested on suspicion of being unfit to drive through the use of drugs. When questioned at Strand Road he told police he had been getting a lift to go to see his solicitor, the police constable said, and although Simpson’s story was changeable during questioning he remained adamant he was not the driver.

Defence counsel Eoghan Devlin, applying for bail on Simpson’s behalf, said that although he has lost his bed with the Simon Community in North Belfast since his incarceration, he hoped alternative accommodation could be obtained outside the city. Mr. Devlin, however, said he was “not blind to the difficulties” represented by the appliction.

District Judge Brian Archer told Simpson that his counsel had said all that could be said on his behalf but refused bail on grounds of his record and concerns about his returning to the city.