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Man who shouted abuse and gestured at bands during loyalist July 12 parade in Rasharkin gets suspended jail term

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BT Coleraine

PICTURE : MARK JAMIESON

A MAN who shouted abuse and made a one-fingered gesture at passing bands and police and also pointed towards an Irish Tricolour flying at Rasharkin’s Main Street during a July 12 loyalist parade, has been given a suspended jail sentence.

Mickey O’Kane (47), of Carnfinton Park in the County Antrim village, previously pleaded guilty to being disorderly when he appeared at Coleraine Magistrates Court.

Sentencing had been deferred for a year until Monday and the court was heard he had subsequently kept out of trouble during the “marching season” in 2017. A prosecutor told the earlier court a return feeder parade was taking place around 6.25pm on July 12 in 2016 in Rasharkin and as it passed a shop police observed O’Kane was drunk and he was being disorderly.

Defence barrister Thomas McKeever told the earlier court his client was in breach of three suspended sentences but said the offending on the date in question was at the “lower end of the scale” and claimed that at its height it was gesturing towards police.

District Judge Liam McNally told last year’s court that O’Kane was in a “pretty difficult situation” given that he had given him “three chances” before. However, Mr McKeever said there was a “very positive letter” from the charity Extern and he felt the defendant could benefit from Probation.

The barrister said O’Kane accepted his full culpability and has been engaging with his GP and Alcoholics Anonymous.

Judge McNally said O’Kane never had Probation before and a Probation officer’s view was that would be of benefit although he said he remained to be convinced that would be the case.

At court in March 2017, Judge McNally said he would defer sentence for a year and said the only reason he was not jailing O’Kane was to see if he could engage with Probation and keep out of trouble but warned if there was any failure he would be starting with six months in jail.

At Monday’s court a prosecutor said the only other offending since then was a driving matter. Defence solicitor Ciaran Shiels said the “marching season in 2017 was a litmus test” for O’Kane. Judge McNally told Monday’s court that the time without offending was a “long spell” for the defendant and he noted O’Kane “survived the 12th of July 2017 without committing any further offences”.

The judge told O’Kane he had “behaved abominably” on July 12, 2016, at Main Street, Rasharkin.

Judge McNally said when the defendant appeared before him last year he really should have sent him to prison but he had received a report that he was trying to deal with his alcohol problem. “I’m happy to hear you stayed out of trouble” and imposing a four months jail term, suspended for two years, the judge warned the defendant: “This is your last chance”.

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