Belfast Telegraph

Foreign Legion applicant fined for pushing police officer over

By Staff Reporter

A judge has commended a Northern Ireland man in his efforts to join the French Foreign Legion, after handing down fines for a sectarian outburst in which a police officer was assaulted.

James Gillen was among a group of people during a disorderly incident on August 21 last year in Dungannon.

The 22-year-old, of Millbrook Drive in Coalisland, was intoxicated and aggressive, and on seeing police came towards them stating he needed to speak to a male.

Officers told him no-one was leaving until they had been spoken to about the incident.

But Gillen pushed an officer in the chest, causing him to fall back against a parked car.

The officer was struggling to keep control of Gillen, who was telling him to "F*** away off."

Having shouted a warning, the officer drew his CS canister and was preparing to activate it, when further police arrived on the scene.

However, Gillen refused to be handcuffed and shouted sectarian abuse at officers including 'Tiocfaidh ar la' and 'Up the 'RA'.

Later, during an interview, Gillen claimed he could remember nothing of the event.

At Dungannon Magistrates Court all charges were admitted and a defence barrister said his client had been at a work outing on the night in question and a lot of alcohol was consumed.

He pointed out Gillen had applied to join the French Foreign Legion and while he failed part of the process in February, he is to reapply later this year.

Deputy District Judge Ted Magill said: "Every court takes a dim view of assaulting police. It is lucky no injury or damage was caused.

"However I feel the assault was a push rather than a deliberate strike." Addressing Gillen directly, Judge Magill added: "You have a goal in life and are prepared to achieve it.

"I am therefore prepared to treat this as a moment of madness."

Imposing a total of £200 in fines, Judge Magill told Gillen: "Je ne regrette rien - as they say in the Foreign Legion."

Belfast Telegraph

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