Judges remarks a ``disgrace''
BY PADRAIG MACDABHAID
A judge who said Martin Meehan ``is a well known republican terrorist'' has in turn been branded a ``disgrace'' by the Sinn Féin representative.
The judge, Justice Lockie, made his comments when delivering judgement in favour of Meehan in a case against the RUC for wrongful arrest and assault. Meehan was awarded £4,000 in the case which was concluded last Wednesday 25 January at Antrim courthouse.
Lockie added, ``the Plaintiff's (Meehan's) derogatory remarks about police redundancy were intended to provoke an aggressive response and regrettably Constable Thompson did not control his temper or emotions.''
The hearing lasted only three days, despite the fact that the case had opened a full year ago. Speaking to An Phoblacht after the hearing, Meehan accused the judge of attempting to justify the RUC attack.
``I am absolutely flabbergasted,'' he said. ``that a judge can come out with such comments and also claim to be impartial.'' He now intends to take legal advice about the judge's comments and hopes to take legal action against his attacker and other RUC members who testified in court.
The incident itself occurred on 17 December 1994. The Sinn Féin man was driving along Herbert Street in Ardoyne when he was stopped by an RUC patrol. He was verbally and physically abused and his car was torn apart in an aggressive search. It was as he was being subjected to a ``very rough body search''. that Meehan said to Thompson, ``What are you afraid of, RUC redundancies?''.
The RUC man went berserk and attacked Meehan, who did not retaliate because he had only been released from prison and had a seven-and-a-half-year licence hanging over him.
Meehan was arrested for assault and disorderly behaviour and was taken to Antrim Road RUC Barracks. After a few hours, an RUC doctor was called and sent Meehan to the Mater Hospital.
He received stitches to cuts but began to experience serious chest pains. He was then moved to the City Hospital's intensive care unit where he was hospitalised for a week and had a serious heart complaint diagnosed. Meehan has been on medication since the attack.
The RUC claimed that Meehan's head wounds were caused as he hit his head on the RUC Land Rover, a claim proved untrue by forensics.
In his judgement, Judge Lockie accepted that ``Constable Thompson did punch the Plaintiff (Meehan) on the face.
``The injury suffered by the Plaintiff appears to be a classic example of a blow by a fist''. He also accepted that Meehan did not hit any RUC officer and said: ``The Plaintiff's arrest, in my opinion, was not justified and was an attempt by the police to divert attention from the earlier confrontation with the Plaintiff or to confuse the situation''.