Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

Judge gets hate mail after court order

A District Judge has revealed that he has received hate mail following his decision to grant anonymity to people charged with drug related offences.

Judge Barney McElholm began granting anonymity to people charged with drug offences after a number of suspects who had appeared in court were subsequently shot by a vigilante group.

The shootings have been blamed on Republican Action Against Drugs (RAAD).

At Thursday's sitting in Londonderry a man who had faced a drug dealing charge — possessing drugs with intent to supply — had it reduced to the lesser charge of possession.

Judge McElholm said that the case highlighted the benefits of the anonymity order as the charge was now simple possession.

He said that since granting the orders he had been subjected to hate mail.

He said: “I don't read these things myself but I have received hate mail on social media sites from all sorts of lunatic right-wing fanatics in England who seem to think that RAAD is a great bunch of boys.”

The judge repeated that the case in question had shown the value of anonymity orders.

A pre-sentence report was ordered and the man will be sentenced on May 31.

The Irish republican vigilante group is mainly active in Londonderry and Strabane and has been blamed for numerous paramilitary-style punishment attacks on suspected drug dealers.

It also claimed responsibility for the murder of Derry man Andrew Allen (24) in Co Donegal in February 2012.

Last summer, it was announced that RAAD had been merged with the Real IRA and other terrorist groups into a group styling itself as the ‘Irish Republican Army’.

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