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Politician appealing conviction may call two new witnesses

By Nevin Farrell

Published 31/07/2015

Independent republican councillor Padraig McShane
Independent republican councillor Padraig McShane
Former SDLP councillor Catherine McCambridge
Stephen McKillop

An unnamed councillor may be a witness in a politician's appeal against his conviction for threatening to shove a bottle down the throat of a rival's husband.

Independent republican councillor Padraig McShane (43), of White Hall Avenue, Ballycastle, is appealing his disorderly behaviour conviction following an incident on the night a loyalist flag protest was held outside the offices of the former Moyle District Council in 2012.

McShane - who was re-elected to Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council - had denied the charge, but was convicted in May and fined £500.

A key part of the prosecution case was the testimony of former SDLP councillor Catherine McCambridge, who witnessed the flare-up. At the County Court in Antrim yesterday, McShane's case was adjourned to September after he did not attend.

Defence barrister Philip McNally said his client and family had, in recent days, been presented with a surprise gift of a free holiday in Tipperary by the councillor's father-in-law and as his client was currently out of the jurisdiction he asked for the case to be adjourned.

The barrister said his client may call two witnesses who have come forward. He said one is a councillor who was in the chamber on the night of the incident.

And he said the other potential witness is a person who allegedly witnessed an assault McShane claims to have been the victim of, by a person with a connection to a prosecution witness.

A prosecution lawyer said he was "somewhat sceptical that a holiday to the south of Ireland materialises" a few days before the appeal was due to be heard.

Judge Donna McColgan QC said she would allow the adjournment but that it must proceed on a date in September.

In May councillor McShane was convicted after a court heard he had lifted a glass bottle and threatened to "shove" it down the throat of Stephen McKillop, the husband of a TUV councillor, in December 2012.

Finding McShane guilty, Coleraine District Judge Liam McNally said he found former SDLP councillor Catherine McCambridge, who gave evidence in the case, to be an "excellent" witness.

McShane had alleged Mrs McCambridge wanted to see his character denigrated so he would not get re-elected, because he had defeated her husband in a previous election.

Mrs McCambridge said it was her duty to "tell the truth" of what McShane did at the council meeting.

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