Four men and a woman were in court today (Friday, October 6) charged with taking part in an illegal parade and wearing paramilitary style clothing.
Appearing side by side in the dock at Craigavon Magistrates Court all five refused to stand when asked to do so, initially by prison staff and the court clerk.
The five, 48-year-old Martin Stephen Conlon, Christopher Martin Hamill (27) both from Lurgan, 49-year-old Audrey Sharpe and Omagh men Declan McCrory (47) and 24-year-old Sean Pearson, also refused to stand when Deputy District Judge Sean O’Hare asked them to.
Appearing for all five, defence barrister Conor Lunny told the judge he had warned the defendants “about the potential repercussions” of not recognising the court but that each were “exercising their right” not to do so.
Conlon, from Tarry Drive; Hamill, from Lurgan Tarry; Sharpe, from Drumbeg, Craigavon; McCrory, from the Aghaboy Road and Pearson, from Culmore Park, are all jointly charged with two counts of taking part in an un-notified public procession on April 15 and 16 this year.
They are also jointly accused on two further charges of wearing items of clothing, namely paramilitary style uniforms, “in such a way or in such circumstances as to arouse reasonable suspicion that he was a member or supporter of a proscribed organisation, contrary to Section 13(1) of the Terrorism Act 2000,” on the same dates.
None of the surrounding circumstances giving rise to the allegations were opened in court but it is understood they relate to un-notified parades in Lurgan and Belfast on 15 and 16 April this year.
Giving evidence to the court a police constable said he knew the background facts and circumstances, adding that he believe he could connect each of the accused to the offences.
A prosecuting lawyer asked for the case to be adjourned for six weeks as “there’s some expert evidence required” but Mr Lunny said he was taking “no issue” with the postponement.
While the defence barrister asked for legal aid to be granted, Judge O’Hare deferred the application but said it could be looked at again “when the defendants recognise the court.”
All five were freed to appear again on November 17.
According to a police press release two other men, aged 35 and 41 have been reported to the Public Prosecution Service for similar offences relating to the same processions while a 48-year-old man has also been reported to the PPS for the offence of ‘organising an un-notified procession.’