Judge bans publication of address of accused in Larne ‘feud’ case

Court sign
Court sign

A judge banned the publication of the address of a man alleged to have committed offences as part of a “feud” in Larne after a court heard on Thursday the accused had received “threats to his life”.

Sean McRandle (30), appeared in the dock at Ballymena Magistrates Court accused of causing grievous bodily harm with intent to a man and with possessing a wheel brace as an offensive weapon in Larne on April 13 this year.

A police officer said he believed he could connect the accused to the charges.

A defence lawyer said his client had been the subject of a number of “serious threats to his life” since the alleged incident and said although he had no issue with the name being published he asked for the court to make a ruling regarding his client’s address.

District Judge Peter King said he was “not attracted” to applications that take away from open justice.

The police officer confirmed threats had been issued to the defendant.

The defence lawyer said he wanted to protect his client from “criminal elements in Larne” and said his client was told on three occasions by police there were threats against him.

Judge King said he would need to know more about the nature of the threats and later in the court he said he was satisfied there were “Article Two issues” and said although McRandle’s name could be reported there should be no publication of his address.

McRandle was released on his own bail of £500 and ordered to have no contact with the alleged injured party and the case was adjourned until June.

At the same court, Alan Cowan (41), who had previously appeared at Coleraine Magistrates Court on April 24 charged with possessing offensive weapons in a public place in Larne on April 22 - a butterfly knife and an extendable baton - had a bail application to allow him to return to live in his family home in Larne refused.

He was previously given bail to an address outside Larne but at Ballymena Court on Thursday his defence barrister, Michael Ward, asked for a return home because the “upheaval” was having a “significant burden on the family” and he wanted to return home to be a support to his wife.

A police officer said the situation in Larne had “calmed down” and alleged part of the reason it was “relatively quiet” was that certain people were no longer in the town because of court appearances.

The officer said “various threats” had been made by “both sides in this ongoing situation” which was described by Judge King as an “uneasy peace”.

Responding to the judge, the officer said he was not aware of any “behind the scenes mediation”.

Refusing to vary bail, Judge King told Cowan he didn’t have any particularly strong views regarding him returning to live in Larne in the short to medium term but the “best way to avoid” offences being committed in the town at the moment was not to vary bail.