Bail revoked after ‘masked men cut off tag’

Derry's Courthouse on Bishop Street. 3003JM66

Derry's Courthouse on Bishop Street. 3003JM66

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A man who claimed masked men cut off his electronic tag twice in the same week has been remanded in custody.

William Martin McDonnell, of Culdaff Gardens, is currently on bail accused of terrorist related offences.

They include possessing an article for use in terrorism, namely a handwritten note which was allegedly smuggled into Maghaberry Prison, and failing to notify police of information.

These offences were allegedly committed between June 5 and June 23.

The 28-year-old faces further charges of theft and criminal damage to an electronic tag from earlier this week.

McDonnell claimed that on Tuesday night while he was out for a walk three masked men approached him and took him to Creggan shops.

He said they then cut off his tag and left.

The court heard he immediately phoned G4S, the security company which supplies the tag, and they told him to go to a place of safety.

Applying for bail to be revoked, an investigating officer told Derry Magistrates Court police have ‘suspicions’ about how the tag was removed.

He said if McDonnell’s explanation is to be believed ‘we have masked men in Creggan forcing him to remove his tag’ and ‘given the threat in the area the tag is the most practical way of monitoring bail conditions’.

Defence solicitor Paddy MacDermott applied for his client to be released on bail and for the electronic tag condition to be removed.

He accepted it is a ‘very difficult situation for the court’ but ‘clearly someone is trying to make a point about this tag and are obviously not happy he has been released with it’.

Revoking bail, District Judge Barney McElholm said the ‘court cannot countenance being dictated to by thugs and criminals’.

He said the High Court ‘saw fit’ to release McDonnell with the electronic tag and it would be ‘impertinent’ of him to remove the condition.

The judge added if the 28-year-old ‘keeps agreeing to be tagged something more serious could happen, because we all know what these people are capable of’.

McDonnell was remanded in custody and will appear in court again via videolink on December 11.