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'Willy Nilly' breaches of bail not acceptable - says Derry judge

Derry District Judge Barney McElholm has said that there is no point in having a bail system if people are allowed to ignore it “willy nilly.”

Derry District Judge Barney McElholm has said that there is no point in having a bail system if people are allowed to ignore it “willy nilly.”

His comments came as he revoked the bail of a local man who had breached police bail hours after being granted it. Ryan McLaughlin (31), of O'Connor Court in the Ballymagroarty area of the city, was charged with breaching his bail by texting a woman who he was not allowed to have contact with.

The court was told that McLaughlin had been arrested on Friday and taken to Altnagelvin Hospital.
A police officer said he seemed to return from hospital more intoxicated than he left.

He said McLaughlin then he sent the female several text messages breaching his bail. The officer said McLaughlin did not seem to “grasp” the concept of bail and doubted if there were any conditions that the defendant would “take seriously and abide by.”
Defence solicitor, Paddy MacDermott, said his client should not have sent the messages but there was nothing “menacing or intimidating” in the actual correspondence.

He said McLaughlin had been stabbed on Thursday night and the woman he had been texting had been questioned about that.
The solicitor said McLaughlin had an appointment about his alcohol addiction and his family were anxious he could get help. He asked for the defendant to be released on stringent conditions.

Mr MacDermott said his client had been the victim of a stabbing but a police officer said it was the woman in the case who had flagged down a taxi for assistance and she maintained McLaughlin had been self -harming.

The solicitor said this was to be disputed. Judge McElholm said it was hard to know what to do with McLaughlin as he could not allow someone “to thumb their nose at the bail system.”

He revoked McLaughlin's bail and remanded him in custody until 16 January.

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