Belfast Telegraph

Warrant issued for man who stole Twaddell camp flag

By Alan Erwin

A Belfast man has been convicted of stealing an Ulster flag from a loyalist protest camp in the north of the city two years ago.

Paul Anthony Donnelly had contested a charge of theft, with his lawyers claiming there was no proof who owned the flag in question, which was valued at £10.

But after being found guilty in his absence, a judge issued a warrant for the 43-year-old's arrest.

Donnelly, of Cranbrook Gardens in the city, was arrested close to the site at Twaddell Avenue in March 2015.

The Twaddell camp had been operating in protest at restrictions imposed on an Orange Order parade through the adjacent nationalist Ardoyne area. It was dismantled last year following three years in operation and after agreement was reached.

At the time of the theft, police said they responded to a report of the banner being removed from the outer fencing.

Donnelly failed to appear at Belfast Magistrates' Court for his trial on a charge of stealing an Ulster flag belonging to Isaac Andrews.

Mr Andrews testified that he had purchased and donated it to the camp.

Cross-examined by defence counsel Sean Mullan, he said the flag had been obtained from a man on the Shankill Road.

"I have no receipt for it, but I bought it," Mr Andrews insisted.

According to Mr Mullan, there was a lack of evidence to back up his claims.

"There's simply no proof this man ever owned this flag," the barrister argued.

"It's one of multiple flags and banners that were at Twaddell, and he can't indicate where be bought it from other than some man on the Shankill Road."

Despite his submissions, District Judge Fiona Bagnall ruled that the prosecution had proved its case. She said: "I will convict accordingly, and there will be an arrest warrant for the defendant."

Belfast Telegraph

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