The PSNI has confirmed a report has been received that individuals may have been illegally filmed entering and leaving Dungannon Courthouse.
The issue was disclosed during a judge’s ruling around persons using ‘Freeman of the Land’ and ‘Supreme Being’ defences and their behaviour during proceedings.
District Judge Michael Ranaghan said he was aware of “incidents of people recording prosecutors leaving the building and I assume that is under police investigation”.
The case in question relates to Paul Kevin Canavan (41) from Millrace Avenue, Dungannon, who is accused of damaging an electricity meter on August 17m 2022, but insists he is a ‘supreme being’ and does not consent to the charge.
He frequently refuses to enter the dock or be addressed by his surname, contending he is “Paul Kevin making a special appearance”.
Following numerous and often dramatic stand-offs in court, significantly delaying the matters and sometimes seeing Canavan held in custody for contempt, Judge Ranaghan issued the ruling around the “plethora of nonsense that common men, sovereign men or indeed supreme beings” use as a defence.
He noted these people, “put themselves either outside or above the law. To date the defendant has been dismissive, rude, obstructive, confrontational and generally misbehaves. This court does its best to assist personal litigants, but the defendant has been the worst example I have encountered. He has consistently wasted court time and public money.”
Canavan, said the judge, “has people attending court with him who have also been disruptive, including his partner who behaved particularly badly when he was sent into custody for contempt. I am also advised of their rude, confrontational behaviour in dealings with court staff. There have also been incidents of these people recording prosecutors leaving the building and I assume that is under police investigation.”
The PSNI were asked to clarify if they are aware of this and a spokesperson replied: “Police have received a report indicating that individuals entering and leaving the Dungannon Magistrates court complex may have been subject to filming. Officers are currently reviewing the circumstances and enquiries are ongoing.”
As part of the ruling, Judge Ranaghan informed Canavan he, “is not above the law, nor attends by special appearance.”
He continued: “The defendant calls himself a supreme being. I have never met one and would never be so arrogant to represent myself as one. I find this concept abhorrent. The defendant wants to be treated differently but I will not do so.
“He disputes his name is Canavan and claims the case against him is mistaken identity. He calls himself Paul Kevin and adds the common touch of such persons with a fingerprint in coloured ink overlaying his signature. Nothing takes him outside the jurisdiction of this or any other court. It may be that those using these tactics think they are being clever. They simply are not.”
Judge Ranaghan said: “Rather than trawl the internet for mumbo jumbo, the defendant should seek legal advice, but I fear that will again fall on deliberately deaf ears. He claims Acts and Statutes are not law which is another example of pseudo-legal nonsense. The word ‘understand’ also appears to cause him confusion as he repeatedly utters with theatrical flourish ‘I stand under no-one’. He claims that unless he consents to laws, he isn’t bound by them. That is rubbish.”
He concluded:: “The defendant and those who accompany him have disrupted this court and I am stopping that now. In short, I am on to them. How dare they abuse the court that services the rest of this jurisdiction. The tactics employed are counterproductive.”
The case is due to be heard as a contest on January 24.