Violent scenes in courthouse

There were violent scenes in the local Magistrate’s Court yesterday as a man accused of murder appeared for a brief hearing.

Paul Greatbanks, of Bayview Terrace but currently on remand in Maghaberry prison, is charged with the murder of Patrick Harkin on February 20.

He is also charged with attempting to murder Donegal man Paul Mythen on the same date.

The PSNI made an application for the 46-year-old to be released into their custody for 24 hours, for questioning about an unrelated incident.

Defence solicitor Don Mahoney said there was no objection to the application.

District Judge Barney McElholm granted the application and the 46-year-old is due to appear in court again this morning.

There was a high police presence in the court and a number of Mr Harkin’s family and friends were in the public gallery.

As Greatbanks was led back down to the cells, a mobile phone was thrown from the public gallery and people surged towards the dock.

Violent scenes ensued as abuse and obscenities were shouted at Greatbanks.

A struggle broke out with police and court security staff as they tried to calm the situation.

During the incident, District Judge Barney McElholm asked for one of the people shouting abuse to be arrested and he rose from the court for a short time.

A spokesperson for the PSNI confirmed afterwards that one person was arrested during the incident on suspicion of assault and assault on police and has been released on police bail pending further enquiries.