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Band member used flag pole to smash car window during parade

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A MEMBER of a band parading in Coleraine after earlier attending the Apprentice Boys march in the north west used a flag pole to smash the window of a vehicle, a court heard.

Kris John McGrath (32), of Blackthorn Court in Coleraine, on Monday admitted charges of possessing an offensive weapon – ‘a wooden flag pole with a metal tip’ – in the Killowen area of Coleraine.

He also pleaded guilty to assaulting a male – a relative of his who was in the vehicle – obstructing and resisting police officers and causing criminal damage to the car window on August 10 this year.

A prosecutor said three bands had set off from an Orange Hall around 6pm and the defendant was with the Pride of the Bann band.

McGrath then smashed the front passenger window of a vehicle sitting along the route with a flag before running off and being caught by police who seized the flag.

Others in the area approached and the defendant was placed in a cell van and refused to give his name to police.

The court heard McGrath had “issues” with his cousin was a passenger in a vehicle and the defendant put the metal flag pole through the window putting the passenger in fear of being assaulted by the flag pole.

When interviewed the defendant told police he carried a flag in the band and dropped out to go to the toilet when he heard the car passenger “threaten” him and “spit” at him and he “lost his head”.

A defence solicitor said there was a “long history” between the two men and claimed that as well as ‘threatening’ the defendant the other man “made a remark” about McGrath’s mother who had passed away and he was also spat at causing him to “lose all sense”.

The lawyer claimed McGrath had been arrested on four occasions “due to allegations” made by the other man including one incident involving a “shooting” but all those mentioned had “cast iron alibis”.

On another occasion, according to the solicitor, the other man claimed McGrath “threatened” him and the defendant returned home to find an “armed response unit at his door”.

The court heard the defendant is on benefits and had suffered injuries in previous employment.

The lawyer said the Killowen incident was “unfortunate”.

District Judge Peter King told the defendant to “put as much space between” himself and the other man.

The judge said it was possible McGrath may have been the subject of “provocation” but added that his reaction “had led to you being in the dock of a criminal court with a conviction”.

McGrath was given a one-year conditional discharge; fined £350 and has to pay compensation of £80 for damaging the window of the vehicle which belonged to a woman.

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