Northern Ireland news

Contempt case over judge 'arrest' clears first stage

Attorney General John Larkin is seeking to bring proceedings against a serving policemen for allegedly threatening to arrest a senior judge in court

The Attorney General has cleared the first stage in a bid to have a serving policeman punished for allegedly threatening to arrest one of Northern Ireland's most senior judges.

John Larkin was granted leave to bring prosecution proceedings against Thomas Anthony Carlin for contempt of court over his approach to Lord Justice Gillen.

With Mr Carlin facing possible imprisonment if found guilty, a full hearing of the case is expected to take place later this month.

The 43-year-old's alleged outburst came at the end of a ruling in a house repossession case in the High Court last month.

He had been representing himself in the legal battle with Santander bank over a property in Co Antrim.

At the end of the hearing he allegedly got up and moved towards the bench, claiming he was going to arrest Lord Justice Gillen.

Security and court staff intervened before he was led from the courtroom.

He was arrested on suspicion of two counts of common assault, but subsequently released without charge.

The Police Ombudsman was also notified.

Mr Carlin is alleged to have interrupted proceedings without justification, refused to resume his seat, approached the presiding judge, threatened to arrest him without lawful excuse and physically interfered with a court tipstaff.

He has rejected an offer of legal representation and, so far, declined to apologise for his actions.

At a previous hearing he turned up at court in full police uniform.

Mr Carlin was not present, however, when the Attorney General went before the High Court yesterday to apply for the right to bring proceedings against him.

Mr Larkin has formed the view that his alleged actions constitute potential contempt which merit punishment if found guilty.

Granting leave to take the case, Mr Justice Horner indicated the case should be dealt with as soon as possible.

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Northern Ireland news