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Republican found guilty of assault on PSNI inspector

By George Jackson

A leading dissident republican has been convicted of assaulting a PSNI inspector.

Gary Donnelly (39), from Rinmore Drive in the Creggan area of the city, was also convicted of obstructing another police officer and was additionally found guilty of a further charge of disorderly behaviour. He was fined £450 at Londonderry Magistrates Court following his three convictions, which he is to appeal.

However, in a reserved judgment following a four-day trial, District Judge Barney McElholm said there was insufficient evidence to convict Donnelly of two related charges of resisting arrest. He dismissed those charges.

The five charges relate to an incident at Foyle Street close to the city centre in Derry on November 16, 2007 when Donnelly sustained a three-part fracture of his left arm during the fracas between himself and police officers who had stopped him and asked to search him.

The district judge said while there were were a number of discrepancies in the evidence given by officers during the trial, he believed the discrepancies proved that the officers had not colluded before giving their evidence.

“However, it surprises me somewhat that no-one took seriously enough Mr Donnelly's protestations that his arm was broken,” Mr McElholm said.

The district judge said while the circumstances surrounding how Donnelly sustained a broken arm were “unresolved and unclear”, he believed it occurred when Donnelly “fell to the ground together with Inspector John Neil with substantial force”.

He described Donnelly's assault on Insp Neil as “at the lower end of assaults” but said he was satisfied that Donnelly had “thrown punches at Insp Neil which did not land with any great force”.

The district judge said the incidents happened after Donnelly had refused a police request to move off the road and onto the footpath to be searched. That refusal, he said, was clearly obstruction.

Belfast Telegraph


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