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PSNI officer Carlin who 'threatened to arrest judge in court' faces contempt trial

Threat of prison hangs over officer who believes courtroom crime was committed

Published 14/01/2016

The officer appeared in court in full uniform.
The officer appeared in court in full uniform.

A serving policeman who allegedly approached one of Northern Ireland's most senior judges and threatened to arrest him is to go on trial for contempt of court.

Dressed in full uniform as he attended the Royal Courts of Justice in Belfast again on Thursday, Thomas Anthony Carlin declined to apologise for his actions at an earlier hearing.

He also rejected an offer of legal representation and asked to have a jury decide on his behaviour towards Lord Justice Gillen.

But another judge refused his request, instead listing the case to be heard by him next week.

Mr Justice Horner said: "I'm going to arrange for a trial to take place on this issue of whether or not there has been contempt in the face of the court.

"I will hear it, there will not be a jury."

He also warned the policeman that, if found guilty, he could be fined or sent to prison.

Mr Carlin's alleged outburst came at the end of a ruling in a house repossession case in the High Court on Tuesday.

The 43-year-old had been representing himself in the legal battle with Santander bank over a property in Co Antrim.

At the end of the hearing he allegedly got up and moved towards the bench, claiming he was going to arrest Lord Justice Gillen.

Security and court staff intervened before he was led from the courtroom.

He was arrested on suspicion of two counts of common assault, but subsequently released without charge.

The Police Ombudsman was also notified.

Mr Carlin is alleged to have 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.

He had been given until today to secure a lawyer, apologise and provide an explanation for his behaviour.

But shortly after entering the courtroom again today in PSNI uniform and hat, Mr Carlin made his position clear.

He told Mr Justice Horner: "I believe for me to apologise to the court would be abandoning my defence."

The offer of legal assistance from a law firm which deals with the Police Federation was also turned down.

Mr Carlin further claimed: "I acted in my capacity as a police officer, I believed a crime had been committed (and) it was outrageous in nature.

"I believe the tipstaff and court staff who intervened... obstructed me in the execution of my duty."

At one stage Mr Justice Horner asked if he denied the alleged behaviour set out in writing.

"I completely dispute those facts," the officer replied.

The judge then cautioned him: "You realise that should you be found guilty of contempt in the face of the court you will be liable for a number of penalties including imprisonment."

Mr Carlin responded that he would comply with the findings of a jury.

However, he was told to turn up on Monday for a trial to be decided by Mr Justice Horner alone.

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