06 Oct 2022

Derry man jailed - 'Witness intimidation will not be tolerated' warns Derry judge

The "message had to go out that witness intimidation will not be tolerated," Derry's District Judge has warned. Barney McElholm (pictured) made the comment during the case involving Derry man Patrick McDermott (32)who was found guilty after a contest of witness intimidation and assault that occurred on 24 February last year. The court was told that the injured party in the case said that McDermott, from Creggan Heights, had kicked him in the shin and told him not to give evidence in a forthcoming case. The court heard man refused and McDermott kicked him again and warned that this would continue until he withdrew his evidence. Defence solicitor Paddy MacDermott told the court it was "a serious matter" but added that there had been no further incidents. He added it was "a complicated matter" and was not a straightforward case. Mr McDermott told the court that after McDermott had pleaded guilty in the original matter he had been ordered to pay compensation and had paid half of that. Judge McElholm said: "Nothing is more anathema to the criminal justice system than intimidation of witnesses. "The courts are aware this goes on day and daily and we don't hear about it - all we hear is that a witness strangely decides not to come forward at the last minute." Mr McElholm said there were many cases where witnesses withdrew through fear. Stating the maximum sentence of six months in jail was "nowhere near heavy enough," he sentenced McDermott to five months in prison.

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