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Court upholds Co Antrim councillor's conviction

Independent councillor Padraig McShane leaves Antrim court. Picture by Mal McCann
Connla Young

A court has thrown out an appeal by a Co Antrim councillor convicted of disorderly behaviour.

Causeway Coast and Glens councillor Padraig McShane was accused of threatening a unionist colleague's husband with a bottle during a council meeting in December 2012.

Stephen McKillop - whose wife Sharon is a TUV councillor - and Mr McShane gave differing accounts of exchanges in the offices of the former Moyle council in Ballycastle.

Mr McShane was convicted of the offence in May and fined £500 but has maintained his innocence.

The incident took place after loyalist flag protesters had held a demonstration outside Moyle council's former offices.

Antrim county court was told yesterday that while walking past Mr McKillop in a corridor, Mr McShane said “Keep you running you wee bastard, you and that wee bitch of a wife of yours”.

Mr McKillop claimed he was “quiet aggressive” and spoke with a “raised voice”.

He said the independent councillor later walked past him as he sat in the public gallery in the council chamber and said “We know all about you, you better watch yourself”.

Mr McKillop also claimed that Mr McShane lifted a bottle of water and said: “I will split you with this bottle, you wee bastard” a short time later.

He said he reported the matter to police.

The court heard from former SDLP councillor Margaret McCambridge, who said she saw Mr McShane “getting to his feet with a glass bottle in his hand”.

She said she then heard the former Sinn Fein councillor say: “If you don't shut your mouth I will shove this bottle down your throat.”

Under cross-examination, Ms McCambridge admitted that since the incident she has “had problems with my memory” stemming from surgery.

She also denied she had any grudge against Mr McShane.

When Mr McShane took the stand he denied making any threats or gestures with the bottle and instead claimed Mr McKillop had made a comment to him.

He alleged that while walking down a council corridor Mr McKillop also “brushed against” him” but he dismissed this as “small man syndrome” and “childish” behaviour.

Mr McShane alleged that while walking past him in the council chamber it was in fact Mr McKillop who said “We know where you live”.

He said he considered this to be “bravado” and “silly nonsense”.

Former Sinn Fein councillor Colm Thompson gave evidence on behalf of Mr McShane and told the court he had not seen his former colleague rising to his feet with a bottle in his hand.

Judge Desmond Marrinan described the case as a “storm in a tea cup” and questioned why it had taken almost three years to conclude.

He reduced Mr McShane's original fine from £500 to £100.

Mr McShane said he will now examine his legal options.

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