ORANGEMAN REFUSED BAIL OVER SWORD MURDER BID ON PSNI OFFICER

ACC Will Kerr put on display a PSNI riot helmet which he said was dented with a ceremonial sword during violence in north Belfast on July 12

ACC Will Kerr displays a PSNI riot helmet which he said was dented with a ceremonial sword during a murder bid on a police officer on July 12

A member of the Orange Order accused of trying to kill a police officer with a ceremonial sword during rioting in north Belfast has been refused High Court bail.

Mr Justice Ben Stephens ruled on Monday that Mark Blaney must remain in custody because of continuing tensions in north Belfast a riot erupted on July 12.

The 30-year-old, of Alliance Close, north Belfast, was charged last month with trying to kill a police officer, possessing an offensive weapon and riotous behaviour.

He was arrested by police investigating serious violence surrounding a ban on an Orange Order parade walking along a stretch of road separating loyalist and nationalist communities.

Police were attacked over a prolong period as they enforced a Parades Commission ruling.

Photographs of the incident shown in court allegedly depict Mr Blaney wearing a sash and wielding the ceremonial sword.

A prosecution barrister opposed his bid to be released on bail due to the risk of re-offending.

The judge was told police believe tensions remain high in the area, with ongoing protests being staged at Twaddell Avenue this weekend when 5,000 protestors converge on the area along with almost 40 bands.

During his first court appearance last month it was revealed that the 30-year-old had been identified by a special police unit codenamed ‘OPERATION TITAN’.

The team has been studying heli-teli pictures and also CCTV images from the ground of the trouble when a feeder parade was stopped from returning home by the shopfronts in Ardoyne.

Belfast Magistrates Court was told in August that when investigating police police put the charges to him, Blaney replied: “I didn’t intend to harm anybody. I’m sorry. I apologise.”

The prosecution said the accused had admitted receiving a text message arranging a meeting where swords and flags were handed out.

But a defence lawyer said this text message just referred to a meeting of an Orange lodge.

The police objected to bail because they said there was a risk he would commit more offences.

Mark Blaney’s solicitor said the accused was “under no illusions about the consequences of his actions”, but pointed out that the accused had a full-time job and three young children, and argued that the court could manage the risk of re-offending.

The district judge said that, given the context of the allegations and that there were more contentious parades to come over the next month, she was refusing bail.

Blaney was remanded in custody to Maghaberry prison in Co Antrim.

 

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