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22/09/2021

Derry man who failed to turn up to court is convicted of assaulting woman after body-worn camera footage recorded by police is shown to judge

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A Derry man has been convicted of assaulting a woman on the basis of body worn camera footage after he failed to turn up to court. Simon Whiteman (33) of Richmond Avenue in Derry had been charged with assaulting a female on April 15. He had admitted possessing class C drugs on April 17. At today's sitting of Derry Magistrate's Court the body worn footage was shown to District Judge Barney McElholm. On it the victim could be heard crying and a police officer asks what happened. She replies that she had been assaulted 'by my boyfriend' who she goes on to identify as Whiteman. She tells police that Whiteman had punched her 'a couple of times' and 'wrecked the flat' before leaving. The woman can be heard saying a taxi man would not take her as she was 'covered in blood' and told her to get an ambulance. The police officer can then be heard asking for Whiteman's description and the time of the assault. Following the footage a prosecution solicitor said the court should accept it as evidence. He said it had been 'taken within 30 minutes of the alleged assault' and added that the victim was clearly 'emotional.' The prosecutor said the court could be satisfied with the footage as evidence. Defence solicitor Paddy MacDermott asked the court to exclude the body worn footage as it was hearsay. He said there had been no follow up with a statement and added Whiteman had given an account of what had happened. Mr MacDermott said his client had said the woman had attacked him and he had pushed her and she tripped over some bags. Judge McElholm said he warned himself about the dangers of such evidence. But he said it had been made soon after the event and he excluded the possibility it had been made up. He described it as 'a spontaneous free flowing account' and said Whiteman's account 'lacks credibility'. The judge added that the defendant had not attended to give his version in court and so he admitted the body worn footage as evidence. On that basis he convicted Whiteman and issued a warrant for his arrest.

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