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Anonymity rejected for under threat ‘completely out of control’ violent offender

Courts justice

A judge has refused an application for anonymity sought for a “completely out of control violent offender” under threat after Press argued the subsequent remand in custody negated risks.

Defence lawyers for Matthew Anderson (22), of no fixed abode, contended reporting of the case could give those who issued the threat “wrongful justification” to act.

The accused is charged with assaulting a woman and threatening to destroy her home, assaulting three police officers and resisting arrest.

It is further alleged he damaged a PSNI vehicle by repeatedly spitting in it, was in possession of a quantity of Ecstasy tablets and used disorderly behaviour in a hospital.

A police officer told Dungannon Magistrates’ Court the charges could be connected.

He explained on October 1 police received a report from the mother of one of Anderson’s friends to say he had attended her home asking her for money.

She described him as “off his head on drugs” and when she refused to hand over money he became aggressive, “roaring, shouting, threatening and put her in fear of violence”.

He left but shouted he would “burn her house and car and called her a f***ing bitch.”

Police located Anderson and when searched nine ecstasy tablets were recovered.

Due to his presentation officers took him to hospital, where his behaviour was “very erratic” in the public area where sick patients were waiting to be treated.

He was warned at least a dozen times but continued shouting and swearing at police and other persons present, and was reminded he was under arrest.

“Obviously he didn’t like this and shouted abuse, calling police black b*****ds,” said the officer.

Whilst being triaged he told a nurse the drugs weren’t his and he was holding them for someone else who had transferred money into his bank account.

Following assessment, Anderson was admitted for psychiatric treatment and due to this was released on bail to attend with police when discharged.

However, while this occurred on October 6 Anderson did not attend.

Efforts were made through his solicitor to have him hand himself in, but on October 12 he was arrested in relation to further occurrences.

Objecting to bail the officer’s said: “The defendant has 68 previous convictions, 23 of which are for violence offences and four are drug-related. He clearly has issues with substance abuse which he is not addressing and this is leading to offending. There is also a very poor bail history with 14 previous breaches, so we believe there is a very high risk of reoffending. He currently doesn’t have an address and is under threat due to his behaviour.”

Applying for bail, a defence solicitor began by requesting anonymity as, “if this case was reported it would give parties who have issued threats further justification – although wrong – to act on same”.

She accepted Anderson was supposed to present to police but stressed he had made contact with his lawyers “with a view to handing himself in or to come to some sort of arrangement”, although this was several days after being discharged from hospital

“The issue here is drugs,” said the defence. “The alleged offences are supposed to have happened when he was under the influence of drugs and alcohol. It’s a cycle where he is arrested and released but not getting the help he requires.”

District Judge Steven Keown remarked: “This is a hopeless bail application. The defendant is a violent offender who is totally out of control and completely unmanageable.”

Press objected to the anonymity application “on the basis the remand in custody negates the issue of threat”.

Judge Keown agreed and remanded Anderson in custody to appear again by video-link on November 9.

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