Belfast Telegraph

Friday 31 October 2014

Police soak up criticism over water pistol arrest

Sandra Overend
Sandra Overend

A man faces court action after shooting at people in a north coast town – with a water pistol.

The 22-year-old could be prosecuted after police failed to see the funny side of his prank in Portstewart, Co Londonderry.

He was in a car travelling along the town's busy Promenade on Sunday evening when police saw one of those inside shooting water over pedestrians and other road users.

Officers stopped the car and identified a man as the prime suspect for the water attacks.

A file on the incident has been sent by police to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS), who will consider whether or not to take court action.

A police spokeswoman said 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.

One posted: "Got to be a joke. Squirting with intent? Grievous bodily wetting? Driving while damp?"

One of the victims of the water pistol shooters, Ulster Unionist MLA Sandra Overend (right), said while those responsible did not mean anybody any harm, their actions were potentially dangerous. Ms Overend, who represents Mid Ulster, was in Portstewart with her family when a car drove past hers and squirted through her driver's window.

She said: "I was sitting in a queue going into Portstewart, my car was stationary with the window open slightly. We were squirted and my children were in the back. One of them piped up 'I just got wet'.

"There is a serious element where if you're taken by surprise and squirted as a driver it could cause an accident.

"I think the police were right to stop them and warn them of the consequences of what could happen.

"I can also see from the other point of view that is was innocent fun but you need to understand the consequences if you are squirting drivers what can happen."

A police spokeswoman confirmed the report to the PPS.

She 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."

QUOTES

Facebook comments:

  •  Finally I can leave the house and venture into the wide world now these criminals are taken off the streets
  •  Got to be a joke. Squirting with intent? Grievous bodily wetting? Driving while damp?
  •  Good! I once had a contact lens knocked out as they squirted my face through the window! Couldn't see for a bit, dangerous alright
  •  Many a time I was soaked driving up and down the street
  •  Go catch some real criminals

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