A WEST Belfast man who made reference to the IRA and argued with men from Larne at Ballymena Courthouse four days before Christmas has had bail fixed for appeal after being sentenced to four months in jail.
Declan Finbar Conor McKernan (30), of Beechmount Parade in the Falls area, also assaulted and injured two police officers during incidents on December 21 last year.
The defendant has now been back in the same courthouse this week and admitted assaulting two police officers; resisting one of the officers in the execution of his duty; disorderly behaviour at the courthouse and attempted criminal damage of a police cell van.
A prosecutor said that last December McKernan became disruptive in the waiting area outside the courtroom, swearing, shouting and being abusive and he made reference to the ‘IRA’ before being escorted out.
He returned to the court and was arguing with two males from Larne and was aggressive and again shouted and swore.
When arrested he struggled violently, kicking and screaming, punching one police officer and elbowing another before breaking free.
Defence barrister Chris Sherrard said McKernan had been accompanying a companion to court when he “became involved in an exchange of views with other court users” before leaving and going to a pub and returning intoxicated.
He said the court setting was an aggravating feature but said much of the offending behaviour took place just outside the court building.
District Judge Nigel Broderick said it was a “very unsavoury” incident aggravated by happening in the confines of a courthouse “where everybody who comes here should do safely and certainly should not be assaulted”.
He added: “This building must be a safe place for those who come here who have business here.”
He noted McKernan had 24 previous convictions for assaulting police and jailed him for four months.