Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Man faces court for squirting water at police Land Rover in Portstewart

Philip Deazley with the plastic water pistol he fired at a PSNI Land Rover in Portstewart

A man has been charged to appear in court accused of shooting passers-by in a seaside town – with a water pistol.

The 22-year-old will appear in the dock today after police failed to see the funny side of his prank in Portstewart, Co Londonderry.

A file on the incident was sent by police to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS), which decided to pursue court action against Philip Deazley.

If convicted, he will have a criminal conviction for disorderly behaviour as a result of what he said was "just a bit of harmless fun".

Police were criticised at the time of the incident, during which the blue lights of a PSNI pursuit vehicle were activated to stop the vehicle Mr Deazley was in.

He is due to appear before the Magistrates Court in Coleraine to answer the single charge.

In the days after the incident Mr Deazley, from Omagh, Co Tyrone, explained what led to him being stopped by police.

"There were about 10 other people squirting with water pistols that night but I was the only one stopped," he told this newspaper last July.

"When the police stopped me they said I could pay an £85 fine for disorderly behaviour, but I wasn't paying that for squirting a wee bit of water.

"I'll go to court if it comes to that."

Mr Deazley had been in the north coast town with a group of friends on Sunday, July 21.

As they drove along Portstewart's busy promenade he previously said he squirted some other friends using a large green and black water pistol.

However, when he shot in the direction of a stationary police Land Rover, Mr Deazley found himself in hot water with the officers inside.

Last July he insisted: "It wasn't dangerous and the windows were fully up.

"The other cars I squirted were stopped, too, and in a queue of traffic.

"Two police got out of the vehicle and there was no talking to them.

"They said they would arrest all five of us in the car if we didn't say who it was, so I said it was me.

"It was just a tiny bit of water, harmless fun. The whole thing is a complete joke."

A police spokeswoman argued that squirting water over other motorists could potentially cause a vehicle to crash.

But followers of the PSNI's North Coast Facebook page said the officers involved "should catch themselves on" and "concentrate on catching real criminals".

Others made tongue-in-cheek remarks about "police hypocrisy" given the use of high-powered water cannon over the Twelfth period last summer.

The police spokeswoman added: "Police don't want to be killjoys and stop people having craic, but it's our job to draw the line when things go too far.

"Some people might not take kindly to prankish behaviour and police were being proactive in this instance, preventing trouble from starting in the first place."

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