Man 'attacked police with walking stick' at Twaddell loyalist protest camp
A man in his sixties tried to attack police with his walking stick close to a loyalist protest site in north Belfast, the High Court heard today.
Matthew Hugh Gordon also made repeated attempts to block officers from filming crowds gathered near the contentious Orange Order parade route past Ardoyne.
The 62-year-old, of Carrs Glen Park in the city, is accused of riotous behaviour, three counts of assault on police and two further charges of obstructing police.
He was granted bail but banned from going within 500 metres of any parade, protest or demonstration.
Gordon is alleged to have committed the offences around Twaddell Avenue on three separate dates within the last month.
He was arrested at home after the most recent incident occurred last Monday.
Police were in the area - where a protest camp has been set up since Orangemen were banned from completing their Twelfth of July march - to move a crowd back from an ambulance depot.
Conor Maguire, prosecuting, claimed an officer who tried to reason with those at the scene was subjected to a tirade of abuse from Gordon.
The accused is alleged to have surged towards the policeman repeatedly, raising his walking stick in a suspected attempt to attack him.
Despite being told to calm down Gordon came at him again, the court heard.
Mr Maguire said the officer grabbed his jacket and tried to pull him out of the crowd and make an arrest.
But he was thwarted by the crowd pulling the accused back in, it was claimed.
Although another officer managed to seize the walking stick the barrister alleged that Gordon tried again to strike out as the crowd was being pushed back.
A black object believed to be part of his stick was used, according to the prosecution.
Police were unable to arrest him at the time due to the hostility of the crowd, the court heard.
Gordon also faces charges over two previous incidents in the same area.
It was claimed that he repeatedly raised his hands to stop a police evidence gathering team recording the scene on September 26 before driving off.
On October 7 he again allegedly tried to obstruct the same officer, this time using an umbrella to block filming.
Defence counsel Neil Fox said his client has made some admissions, adding: "He has acted in an intemperate fashion and inconvenienced the police."
But arguing that Gordon was not a violent man, the barrister said: "He has steered clear of trouble for decades living in this area."
Granting bail on conditions which also include living with a nephew in Dundonald, the judge took into account the accused's age, ill health and a reference from his pastor.
But Mr Justice Horner stressed: "These protests are placing the police under great strain.
"It's completely unacceptable that the police should be subject to criminal behaviour and quite rightly steps should be taken to ensure it does not reoccur."