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Ulster's law chief set to prosecute officer over 'threat to arrest judge'

By Alan Erwin

Published 19/01/2016

Lord Justice Gillen
Lord Justice Gillen

A serving policeman who allegedly threatened to arrest one of Northern Ireland's most senior judges is set to be prosecuted by the Attorney General.

Thomas Anthony Carlin was due to go on trial yesterday for contempt of court over his approach to Lord Justice Gillen.

But having listened to a recording of the incident, another High Court judge informed him that the matter has been referred to law chief John Larkin.

Mr Justice Horner said: "You should carefully consider your own position, especially in light of what will appear on the CD and the consequences that may follow, including imprisonment should you be found guilty of contempt in the face of the court."

The trial will now take place at a later date. Mr Carlin's alleged outburst came at the end of a ruling in a house repossession case in the High Court last week. 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 has rejected the offer of legal representation and, so far, declined to apologise for his actions. At a previous hearing he turned up at court in full police uniform.

But dressed in a suit yesterday, he was told by Mr Justice Horner that the seriousness of the case "demands this matter be prosecuted independently of the court".

The judge said: "I have decided to refer the matter to the Attorney General, who I'm confident will deal with it with expedition."

Mr Carlin is to be given a CD copy of the hearing where he allegedly threatened to arrest Lord Justice Gillen. He claimed the case against him was "procedurally defective" and questioned how a document setting out his alleged contempt was handed to him.

"How can this come from a person unlawfully at large, who was under arrest?" he asked.

He added: "I want these matters withdrawn." But Mr Justice Horner told him: "Please sit down. I have made my position clear."

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