Secret talks were ongoing to persuade flag protester Jamie Bryson to hand himself in when he was being sought by police, it emerged yesterday during the trial of his friend Pastor Mark Gordon.
Bryson briefly went on the run from police in February after they wanted to speak to him over his role in protests over Belfast City Council's Union flags policy.
Newtownards Magistrate's Court heard yesterday that police found Bryson lying on a bed holding his mobile phone in the attic of his friend's home in Bangor.
Mr Gordon was found not guilty of obstructing police. He was accused of having prevented police from entering his house.
It emerged in court that he had been negotiating with PSNI Area Commander Chief Superintendent Nigel Grimshaw about Bryson handing himself in to Bangor station that day.
Detective Constables Kirsten Dalton and Rory Hamill from Operation Titan (now known as Operation Dulcet) knocked on Mr Gordon's door in Bangor at around 4.50pm on February 28.
A uniformed police team were stationed at the back of the property to prevent Bryson escaping.
The court heard Mr Gordon opened the door and asked if they had a warrant, when they said no, Det Cons Hamill said he "slammed it shut".
Det Cons Dalton told the court she explained they could enter the house.
Sergeant Christopher Maurice Dickson said Mr Gordon went to close the door, and he moved into the house and pushed the defendant against the wall.
Mr Gordon denied that he tried to stop them entering his home.
The court heard that on the previous day he had assisted police search his offices for Bryson.
Sgt Dickson told the court he found a staircase to the attic in a third bedroom. "On entry to the attic room, I saw Mr Bryson lying on the bed, mobile phone in his hand," he said.
Det Con Dalton arrested Bryson, as she, Det Con Hamill and Sgt Dickson brought him out to the police car.
Mr Gordon said because of his communications with Chief Superintendent Grimshaw he was under the impression police were no longer seeking to arrest Bryson, and therefore was "shocked" when police arrived at his door.
Chief Supt Grimshaw confirmed that he had been in contact with Mr Gordon that day, but had never said that police were not still looking for Bryson.
District Judge Paul Copeland ruled that police had acted in a lawful and legitimate way.
Mr Gordon said that he was delighted with the result, but that his relationship with Chief Superintendent Grimshaw had broken down over this incident.
On February 27 Donaghadee man Jamie Bryson went on the run from police. He evaded capture for 24 hours, posted to Facebook from hiding and was interviewed by UTV. His run came to an end on February 28 when he was discovered by police in the home of Pastor Mark Gordon. He has been charged with a number of public order offences.