Bail for men involved in '˜bizarre' Derry incident

Suggestions that a man in a wheelchair opened fire as a car was rammed into his home in Derry are 'fantasy', the High Court heard today.

Friday, 5th October 2018, 4:37 pm
Updated Saturday, 6th October 2018, 6:30 am

Thomas Scarlett (39) faces a charge of possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life at his house in Ballynagard Crescent.

Another man, 33-year-old Simon Whiteman, of Richmond Avenue in the city, is accused of attempted grievous bodily harm with intent, dangerous driving and criminal damage to gates on the property.

Both defendants were granted bail amid conflicting accounts of what happened on September 27.

Whiteman allegedly drove a Volkswagen car into galvanised gates at Scarlett’s home after leaving the latter’s property “topless”.

According to the prosecution, CCTV footage then showed a “a bullet-type trace” coming from the area of the house.

A neighbour later reported to police that his upstairs window had a hole in it, with a suspected bullet head found inside that bedroom.

Mrs Justice Keegan was told investigating officers believe a live round was fired - although no gun has been recovered.

Lawyers for both accused described the incident as “bizarre”.

Whiteman’s barrister claimed he had left the house and got into his car after Scarlett allegedly produced crossbow bolts.

Counsel said the “red mist descended” when something was shot at his client, but insisted any impact caused by the vehicle was minimal.

“The airbag didn’t deploy, there’s no significant damage to the front of the car,” he added.

The court was told Scarlett is in a paraplegic state due to a road collision ten years ago.

His barrister, Sean Doherty, claimed Whiteman repeatedly drove the car into his property after spending time there drinking.

“The next thing he (Scarlett) remembers is his house started to shake,” Mr Doherty said.

He contended that CCTV footage only depicted a slight flash which could have been from a cigarette butt.

“This all happened within 30 seconds, and this man is in a wheelchair,” the barrister added.

“The idea that he was somehow in a position to respond immediately to the attack on his house, firing a loaded weapon at Mr Whiteman, is absolute fantasy.

“Mr Whiteman is not a reliable historian, he’s not an accurate historian, and he’s not a sober historian.”

Granting bail to both defendants, the judge imposed strict conditions including a ban on contacting each other or any witnesses.

In a further prohibition for Scarlett, she directed: He can’t have possession of, or obtain, any weapon, including a crossbow, at his property.”