Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

Dissident is acquitted of assaults on PSNI officers

Dissident republican Gary Donnelly has had three charges of assaulting police officers dismissed after a three-day trial.

Donnelly (39) of Kildrum Gardens in the Creggan area of Londonderry was charged with assaulting the police officers on August 10, 2006, as he was being brought to court to appear as part of the ‘Raytheon 9’ case.

Earlier in the trial the court heard from police officers how Donnelly had stepped out of the police van and then went rigid and had to be forcibly moved.

It was claimed that Donnelly had shouldered an officer into railings beside the court and kicked two other officers as he struggled while being brought to the cells.

However under cross examination by Eoghan Devlin, a PSNI constable accepted that his evidence was different from his statement and notebook.

Another constable who claimed to have been pushed into the railings denied that he had discussed any aspect of his evidence with the other officers except to check times. He was asked how it was that both his and Constable Doherty's statements had a line that was exactly the same.

A third constable claimed to have seen Donnelly lying on the ground on his stomach but when it was pointed out that this was not in his notebook he said then that Donnelly had not been on the ground at all.

At the end of the Crown case Mr Devlin asked the judge to direct there was no case to answer pointing out that there were “16-17 inconsistencies” in the evidence of the police.

The Judge Mr Mervyn Bates refused the application.

Mr Donnelly then gave evidence and denied that any assaults took place.

He said he turned to acknowledge his father when he was “wrestled to ground” by four police officers.

He said that one officer had said “let's give Donnelly a kicking” but he added that he believed that was to annoy him and not a serious threat.

A journalist, Irish News reporter Seamus McKinney, gave evidence of covering the court that day and said he saw Donnelly turning to acknowledge the crowd and being “bundled” to the ground. He said he did not see the officer being shoved into railings.

In summing up the case Judge Bates said public order incidents like this were difficult to police. He said the only medical evidence was a graze on Constable Hamilton's arm but he added the officer had said he was wearing a boiler suit at the time, while a doctor said he had been wearing a short sleeved shirt.

He also expressed concern at police officers’ use of notebooks and statements which he said were supposed to be aids to memory not substitutes.

He dismissed the charges saying he could not be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt.

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