Belfast Telegraph

Cop jailed for trying to arrest a judge is challenging conviction

By Alan Erwin

A serving policeman jailed for trying to arrest one of Northern Ireland's most senior judges will attempt to appeal against his conviction in the UK's highest court.

Thomas Anthony Carlin has also instructed lawyers to seek bail as he seeks to overturn the three-month prison sentence imposed for his approach to Lord Justice Gillen. His application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court will be dealt with at a specially arranged hearing in Belfast tonight.

On Wednesday, the 43-year-old PSNI officer was found guilty of contempt of court in proceedings brought against him by the Attorney General.

Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan 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 in the spotlight".

After the verdict Mr Carlin was led from the Royal Courts of Justice in handcuffs to begin his jail term.

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 took a new twist yesterday when it emerged that the policeman intends to appeal.

Appearing again by video-link from Maghaberry Prison, he was at first only represented in court by a friend.

But with Attorney General John Larkin QC and Sir Declan both urging Mr Carlin to consider accepting professional legal advice for the first time, Belfast-based law firm Madden and Finucane was instructed to represent his interests.

The Lord Chief Justice and Mr Justice Horner, are expected to decide whether to grant leave to go before the Supreme Court based on the prospects of any appeal succeeding.

If they hold that Mr Carlin has an arguable case with a reasonable chance of ultimately winning, he is almost certain to be granted bail.

Due to time pressures and other judicial commitments, however, the application could not be dealt with yesterday. Sir Declan instead suggested convening the court again at 7pm today.

Barrister Dessie Hutton, now representing Mr Carlin, acknowledged the offer as going "above and beyond the call of duty".

Until then, his policeman client will remain in custody.

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 payments on a £192,000 mortgage for 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.

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

The Police Ombudsman has also launched an investigation.

Mr Carlin faced allegations of having interrupted proceedings without justification, refusing to resume his seat, approaching the presiding judge, threatening to arrest him without lawful excuse and physically interfering with a court tipstaff.

Belfast Telegraph


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