Binge drinker could not recall petrol bombing police officers

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

A man accused of making, possessing and throwing petrol bombs could not remember making a petrol bomb attack on police, a Londonderry High Court has heard.

In the dock was Jason Doherty (27), a call centre worker from Elmwood House, Noerthland Avenue in the Cityside.

The High Court heard that Doherty was accused of petrol bombing a police Land Rover in Londonderry, but had no memory of the attack.

Doherty’s lawyer said his client had been binge-drinking for days before allegedly hurling up to four devices at the vehicle at Strand Road PSNI station a fortnight ago.

Granting bail to him, the High Court Judge described his behaviour as “bizarre” and “inexplicable”.

Doherty is charged with making, possessing and throwing petrol bombs as well as further public order offending, including counts of arson endangering the life of police officers, criminal damage and disorderly behaviour.

Prosecution counsel Kate McKay told the court that Doherty was captured on CCTV arriving outside the station. He was seen carrying a plastic bag.

The footage depicted him lifting out devices and throwing them at a Land Rover before running away. One of the devices ignited on the vehicle.

Doherty allegedly carried out the attack in full view of members of the public, including elderly patrons of a nearby bingo hall.

The prosecution said he was arrested a short time later and when the police searched his flat they found bottles of white spirits, sugar and bottles with pieces of cloth stuffed into the neck.

During police questioning he was shown the CCTV recordings of what had occurred, but he insisted that he had no recollection, telling police he wished no harm on any officers.

David Heraghty, who appeared for Doherty, confirmed his client has made admissions about his alleged actions.

The barrister contended that his client had been working long hours in his call centre job and battling the “demons” of stress and anxiety.

Doherty had just been paid and went on a major drinking session, according to his lawyer.

Mr Heraghty said: “This is the culmination of a number of days binge drinking, the impact it had on his thinking and the affect on his ability to recall events clearly.”

Following submissions Mr Justice Colton said there appeared to be no rationale behind the incident.

“This is an alarming and bizarre case, the actions of the applicant are simply inexplicable,” he said.

However, the judge decided Doherty could be bailed on strict conditions.

The accused was ordered to abide by a curfew, electronic tagging and banned from taking alcohol.