Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Union flag protester 'cut off electronic tag' - court hears

A union flag protester involved in blocking a road later cut off his electronic tag and dumped it in his front garden - a court has heard
A union flag protester involved in blocking a road later cut off his electronic tag and dumped it in his front garden - a court has heard

A union flag protester involved in blocking a road later cut off his electronic tag and dumped it in his front garden, a court heard today.

Police also discovered cannabis and diazepam pills on Matthew Robert Gordon after he was arrested in the centre of Belfast.

The 19-year-old, of Kilcoole Park in the city, was sentenced to 80 hours community service and put on probation for 12 months.

Gordon was convicted of obstructing traffic in a public place, criminal damage, and possessing Class B and Class C drugs.

Belfast Magistrates' Court heard he was part of a crowd of around 20 youths taking part in a protest on the Crumlin Road on December 11 last year.

The demonstration was staged following the decision to restrict flying of the union flag at City Hall.

A prosecution lawyer said Gordon was near the front of a group standing on the road blocking traffic.

His face was covered and he was waving a union flag at traffic, the court heard.

He was arrested at the scene after ignoring repeated warnings from police.

A month later, while on bail, he was detained on a warrant in the Corn Market area.

"After caution the defendant informed police he had some grass on him, and said he had cut off his G4S tag on December 30 and left it in the front garden of his house," the prosecution lawyer added.

"Inquiries confirmed what he told police was correct."

In custody Gordon fell to the floor, became agitated and lashed his arms and legs at police.

A quantity of plastic bags and tablets were discovered  beside him.

Defence barrister Michael Boyd told the court Boyd's lifestyle during that period was characterised by drug abuse.

Passing sentence, the judge ruled that a combination of community service and probation was appropriate.

Gordon was also order to pay £131 compensation for damage to the electronic tag.

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