Belfast Telegraph

Alleged UDA boss banned from Shankill area during prison release to attend family funeral

By Alan Erwin

An alleged UDA boss is banned from going near its power base during temporary prison release, a High Court judge ordered today.

The prohibition was imposed on David 'Dee' Coleman as part of his compassionate overnight bail to attend a family funeral in Belfast.

Mr Justice Colton granted the 32-year-old's application on strict conditions about his movements before returning to custody on Saturday afternoon.

The judge confirmed: "He's excluded from the Shankill area (of the city)."

Coleman, from Hopewell Crescent in Belfast, is charged with membership of a proscribed organisation between June and October 2017.

He was arrested by detectives from the PSNI's Paramilitary Crime Taskforce during an operation involving 14 searches at locations in the city, Holywood and Portadown.

Nearly 30 suspected members of the UDA's notorious C Company battalion based in the Lower Shankill area are under investigation, a previous court was told.

The unit is allegedly involved in extorting local businesses, punishment beatings, intimidation, drugs and loan sharking.

Coleman is accused of holding a position of second in command, according to the police and prosecution case.

Telephone evidence allegedly links him to the gathering of membership money for the outlawed organisation, a judge was told.

At the earlier hearing it was claimed messages attributed to him were signed off 'QS' - an apparent reference to the UDA's Latin motto Quis Separabit (Who will separate us?).

Prosecutors also alleged instructions on initiating new members and a UDA long-service medal were discovered at an address linked to him.

Coleman denies the charge against him, with his lawyers describing the case against him as "vague and speculative".

It was revealed today that a preliminary enquiry to assess the evidence has now been listed for the end of March.

With no investigative hold-up identified, Mr Justice Colton refused Coleman's application for full bail.

Defence lawyers pressed ahead with a separate bid to secure his temporary release to attend the funeral of his wife's grandfather.

Barrister Sean Mullan argued that is was for a "solemn purpose" of providing support for his bereaved partner.

Coleman would spend Friday night at an address in Co Down, attend the funeral service and then return to Maghaberry Prison later on Saturday, the court heard.

Opposing any release, prosecution counsel claimed he could access computers and phones to contact others.

"He could engage in the type of behaviour that was ongoing and the basis for this particular charge," she contended.

Although Coleman's wife attended court for the hearing, issues were also raised about the current state of their relationship.

However, Mr Justice Colton ruled that the defendant can be released to attend the funeral once a £750 cash surety is lodged.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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