Tyrone prisoner whose ‘ego was bruised’ told court officer: “You’ll be the next David Black’

editorial image

A Dungannon man who took umbrage to being prevented from kissing his girlfriend as he was led to the cells, told a court custody officer: “You’ll be the next David Black”.

The “disgusting” threat made by Patrick Bell, 34, whom the judge at Dungannon Magistrates Court described as “an experienced criminal”, was recounted by a prosecuting lawyer after Bell entered guilty pleas in his case.

The incident unfolded as Bell was being led from Dungannon Crown Court on February 5 this year.

According to the prosecutor, Bell tried to kiss his partner on the lips but the custody officer placed his hand between them in order to prevent any attempt at passing contraband items.

At that point, t he court was told, Bell’s girlfriend claimed the officer had assaulted her, an allegation which prompted Bell to try and headbutt the custody official.

A struggle ensued between the defendant and the custody officer, with Bell shouting a number of threats including the reference to murdered Cookstown prison officer, David Black.

Bell was also heard to say to the officer: “Your card is marked.”

When later questioned about the incident, Bell claimed he had no intention of killing the injured party.

Bell’s lawyer, defending, said that, while the threats issued by Bell were “very unseemly”, they represented the actions of someone whose ego had been bruised by being brought to the cells in front of his partner.

The defending barrister also said the actions of Bell’s partner during the incident “did not help the situation”.

In his sentencing remarks, District Judge, John Meehan, said Bell’s criminal record ran to some 25 pages and pointed out that a probation report in the case “makes for bleak reading”.

District Judge Meehan imposed a custodial term of four months in the matter, which was heard by videolink from Maghaberry Prison.