Judge refuses to return illegal demo accused for trial

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A judge has refused to return four people for trial accused of managing an illegal demonstration at Derry City Cemetery.

Patrick McDaid, 42, of Sackville Court, Marian Price, 58 of Stockman’s Avenue, Belfast, Marvin Canning , 50 of Glendara and Frank Quigley, 29, of Elmwood Road had been charged in connection with an annual dissident republican commemoration on April 25, 2011.

Derry Magistrates Court heard that preliminary enquiry papers were not ready and had not been served on the defendants.

It was also revealed that Price is unfit to travel to court or to appear via videolink.

A prosecution barrister said the PE papers were ready apart from the signature of the Director of Public Prosecutions to authorise a non-jury trial.

She applied to the court to adjourn the case for a further two weeks.

Defence solicitor David Heraghty, representing Canning and Price, said the PE had been fixed for “quite some time” and the prosecution had “ample opportunity” to get the papers ready.

He revealed that Price is suffering from severe depression “in connection with her incarceration” and there is “no realistic prospect” of her being fit to attend court in a couple of weeks.

Quigley’s defence solicitor Ciaran Shiels said the PPS should not use the deterioration of Price’s health to “deflect” from the fact that papers are not ready.

He said the evidence against his client had not changed since June last year.

Mr Shiels made an application for the judge to refuse to return Quigley for trial.

Paddy MacDermott, acting for McDaid, made a similar application.

District Judge Barney McElholm said the illness of Price should not delay the case against the other defendants.

He added that he had directed the PE to take place today and added: “ IF I don’t use what teeth I have, I may as well let the prosecution dictate the pace and that is not a good situation.”

Mr McElholm said the defendants are “entitled to a fair trial wihin a reasonable period of time “.

Refusing to return the defendants for trial, Mr McElholm said: “I will not consent to any further adjournments of this matter.

There is no evidence before me on which I can return them for trial.”