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Policeman is denied right to appeal his jail term for trying to arrest Northern Ireland judge

By Alan Erwin

Published 22/02/2016

Contempt proceedings were brought against the PSNI officer by Attorney General John Larkin QC.
Contempt proceedings were brought against the PSNI officer by Attorney General John Larkin QC.

A serving policeman jailed for trying to arrest one of Northern Ireland's most senior judges has been denied authorisation to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Thomas Anthony Carlin failed to secure leave to challenge his conviction because he was held to have established no arguable legal grounds with a reasonable prospect of success.

However, his lawyers are now set to make a direct request to the Supreme Court for an urgent hearing.

The 43-year-old remains in custody serving a three-month prison sentence imposed for his approach to Lord Justice Gillen.

Last week he was found guilty of contempt of court in proceedings brought against him by the Attorney General.

Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan and Mr Justice Horner held that he had acted with premeditation and determination.

Sir Declan described him as a man driven by self-importance and attention seeking who "revelled in being the spotlight".

At that stage he was told that if he seeks to apologise after 28 days the rest of his sentence will be set aside.

But the case then took a new twist when it emerged that the policeman intended to challenge the conviction.

Belfast-based law firm Madden and Finucane were instructed to represent the interests of an officer who had previously turned down offers of help from professional lawyers.

An application for leave to appeal was mounted at the Royal Courts of Justice in Belfast.

However, Sir Declan held today that no arguable grounds had been established.

Because of that determination Mr Carlin is not eligible for bail at this stage.

Despite the setback, he can still try to take his case to the UK's highest court.

His solicitor, Ciaran Shiels, confirmed: "We are going to urgently petition the Supreme Court for permission to appeal Mr Carlin's conviction."

Mr Carlin's actions and outburst came at the end of a ruling in an ongoing house repossession case last month.

He had been representing himself in the legal battle with Santander bank over claims that he had failed to make mortage payments on a property in Co Antrim.

At the end of that High Court hearing he got up and moved towards the bench, holding aloft what appeared to be a PSNI warrant card.

He claimed he was going to arrest Lord Justice Gillen, before security and court staff intervened.

Police detained him on suspicion of two counts of common assault before he was released without charge.

The Police Ombudsman is also investigating into the incident.

He faced allegations of having interrupted proceedings without justification, refused to resume his seat, approached the presiding judge, threatened to arrest him without lawful excuse and physically interfered with a court tipstaff.

Mr Carlin rejected offers of legal representation during the contempt proceedings and declined to apologise for his actions.

The Attorney General argued that he had acted with flagrant illegality by an unreasonable and inexcusable disruption of proceedings.

Finding him guilty of contempt, Sir Declan referred to aspects of his "self-importance and attention seeking", adding that inviting his supporters to stand up in court had been aimed at abusing the proceedings and gaining publicity.

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