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Belfast court chaos as Scottish robber carried from dock by six officers

By Michael Donnelly

A Belfast courtroom erupted in chaos as a Scotsman, described as "an extremely dangerous individual", had to be manhandled from the dock by armed police.

It took six officers to remove convicted robber Derek Brockwell, who had previously escaped custody in the Republic of Ireland before fleeing to Belfast in February 2015.

Brockwell, whose address was given as Frankland Prison in Durham, clashed with Crown Court Judge Piers Grant after being convicted of robbing a chemist at knifepoint, and attempting to rob a Spar supermarket.

The 56-year-old Scotsman took exception to his sentencing being adjourned for reports until after the summer holiday in August, telling Judge Grant: "You'll be wasting time, I won't be off on any vacation."

Brockwell struggled initially with the two police officers flanking him in the dock, before reinforcements were called.

After Brockwell was carried from court, Judge Grant took the unusual step of reassuring the jury over their guilty verdicts, telling them Brockwell was "regarded as an extremely dangerous individual, with a lengthy, substantial criminal record".

The jury had heard this was not the first time Brockwell had "struggled" with police in Belfast.

He had arrived in the city after escaping his prison guards in Dublin while being taken on a hospital visit for his diabetes.

However, his break for freedom ended the following day when he was arrested in a city centre bar. He told the jury that after the robberies he was in the smoking area of Wetherspoons' bar, and discovered he was "the top item" on the TV news.

However, when police arrived to arrest him, Brockwell struggled, and although tazered, managed to stab himself in the stomach with a camping knife before being taken into custody.

It took the jury just half an hour to convict him.

They rejected his claims that he was acting under duress by two men when 'negotiations' over the price of smuggling him back into Scotland broke down.

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