A Portadown man who smeared paint in a police cell van after being caught writing ‘IRA’ on a wall has been sentenced to six months in jail.
Stefan Hyde, of Woodside Green, appeared before Craigavon Magistrates’ Court via videolink from Maghaberry.
The 28-year-old was charged with threats to damage property, two counts of criminal damage, disorderly behaviour and possessing an offensive weapon in a public place.
The court heard that on November 26 last year, police attended the Garvaghy Road area of Portadown to a report of a male acting aggressively and threatening to smash the reporting person’s windows in.
Police later located a male, who matched the description of the defendant, painting the letters ‘IRA’ on the side of a building belonging to Ulster Carpets.
He was then arrested for threats to commit criminal damage and criminal damage.
When police arrested the defendant, he began to shout and swear. He was warned about his behaviour but continued. He was then further arrested for disorderly behaviour.
Whilst he was being conveyed to custody in a cell van, he was covered in paint. He was then observed by police “intentionally smearing” paint from his clothes onto the cell van wall. He was further arrested for attempted criminal damage.
A defence barrister told the court that the defendant had entered a guilty plea in advance of contest, conceding that it was not at the earliest opportunity.
He explained that Hyde was “amending” graffiti to what he believed was the “paramilitary past” of an individual referenced in the graffiti, adding that Hyde has used a “cocktail” of drink and drugs to deal with past issues.
District Judge Bernie Kelly commented: “If he’s not careful he’s going to end up spending a life sentence in instalments….The only person he’s actually hurting is himself.”
Speaking via videolink from the prison, Hyde said: “I think I’m learning my lesson.”
District Judge Kelly responded: “I would sincerely like to hope so.”
Hyde was sentenced to six months in custody in respect of each of the charges, with the sentence to run concurrently with his current sentence, as he was already a sentenced prisoner.
“I’m sincerely hoping that by the time he is due for release in July that the penny might have dropped with him,” District Judge Kelly added.
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