Riot accused convicted of illegal collection
A man in custody charged with rioting on the night journalist Lyra McKee was murdered in Londonderry in April was yesterday convicted in his absence of carrying out an illegal street collection.
Christopher Gillen (38), from Balbane Pass in the city, has been in custody since May 11 charged with rioting, petrol bomb offences and the arson and hijacking of a tipper truck on April 18, the date on which the freelance journalist was shot dead by a dissident republican gunman.
Yesterday in Londonderry Magistrates' Court, Gillen was convicted of carrying out an illegal street collection at Free Derry Corner in the Bogside area last December.
Defence solicitor Paddy MacDermott told District Judge Greg McCourt that while Gillen denied the charge, he would not be giving evidence and had decided to remain in Maghaberry Prison rather than attend court.
The District Judge said two police witnesses had written in statements that they saw the defendant and another man shaking collection jars and collecting money from passing motorists.
Judge McCourt said given there was no evidence to contradict the two officers, he was convicting Gillen of the offence, for which the maximum fine is £200. He imposed a conditional discharge for 12 months.