Northern Ireland news

UDA member David 'Dee' Coleman jailed for 18 months

 David 'Dee' Coleman, who has been jailed for 18 months for UDA membership, pictured with a UDA flag

A 32-year-old man who admitted being a member of the Ulster Defence Association and possessing a document bearing an oath of allegiance to the paramililtary organisation has been sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Judge Geoffrey Miller said evidence presented to the court suggested the David 'Dee' Coleman's responsibility within the UDA was at a "local level" rather than a "directing figure", but he described it as an illegal organisation steeped in "brutal thuggery, extortion and drug dealing... which offers nothing to the community it leeches off".

Coleman, a father-of-one from The Green in Holywood, Co Down, was charged with two terrorist offences following searches of properties connected to him last summer - belonging to the UDA and possessing a document likely to be useful for terrorism.

Dee Coleman was jailed for 18 months for UDA membership

Despite initially denying the offences, Coleman - who Belfast Crown Court heard was originally from the Shankill area of Belfast - pleaded guilty to the charges, and was told he will serve 18 months in custody, followed by 18 months on licence.

The court heard that a number of items were seized during searches of properties linked to Coleman on June 19 last year.

 Among the items recovered by police was a UDA 'long service' medal

In one, police saw a black UFF flag flying from the house, while a mobile phone was located in a second house.

Dee Coleman (32) admitted membership of the UDA and possessing a document bearing an oath of allegiance to the paramililtary organisation

Deleted text sent to multiple recipients from the phone read (sic): "Lads the more ya look around the more ya realise were defo back on our feet and it feels gd when the world put us down and laughed at us not to many laughing now is there but always keep our feet on the floor we don't show of or act big lads we dont need to and its done us wonders no fighting or sh** we any of were coming togeather building abit at a time it a team effort it cant work we out team work and our teams gd and were doing things that ppl said couldnt d done well the last two years say it all the future lads togeather and go forward watp qs 2nd batt c coy."

One person responded by writing "QS bro".

 A 'bullet proof vest' was recovered by police

The prosecution said the text was linked to the UDA - especially Coleman's use of 'watp' for 'We Are The People' and 'QS' for 'Quis Separabit'.

Images found on the phone included pictures of Coleman at UDA/C Company murals on the Shankill.

After further searches, on October 17 last year police recovered a document used to swear an oath of allegiance to the UDA which bore Coleman's fingerprints and "a great deal of material indicative of membership".

Police recovered a document used to swear an oath of allegiance to the UDA which bore Coleman's fingerprints 

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The prosecution said Coleman's criminal record - which includes offences for rioting, robbery and carrying an imitation firearm - was a "significant aggravating factor".

Defence barrister Charles MacCreanor said Coleman's plea should be welcomed, as there would have been difficulties in prosecuting the case, describing a majority of the evidence as "hearsay and circumstantial".

He added that the mundane nature of the texts were "certainly not organising criminal activity".

Shankill loyalist David 'Dee' Coleman pleaded guilty to membership of the UDA. Picture by Alan Lewis, PhotopressBelfast

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