Northern Ireland news

PPS explain why fake gun charges dropped

Unionists condemned the online video which showed a man dressed in paramilitary style clothing pointing a gun at an Orange Order parade in Randalstown in July
Connla Young

PROSECUTORS have explained why charges were dropped against a man accused of pointing an imitation AK47 assault rifle at an Orange parade.

Christopher Donaldson (34) had faced five charges arising out of the incident in Randalstown, Co Antrim, on July 8 last year.

The charges were withdrawn at Antrim Magistrates Court earlier this week, prompting unionists to voice concern.

It has now emerged the charges were initially brought against Mr Donaldson by the PSNI and that the Public Prosecution Service later decided not to proceed with the case.

The charges arose after a video emerged of a man appearing to pretend to fire at an Orange parade.

A second video uploaded onto the same Facebook page shows a man positioning himself close to those on parade before chanting pro-IRA slogans.

The court had earlier heard that Mr Donaldson accepted that the man in the videos was him.

In a statement a spokeswoman for the PPS said it received an investigation file on November 28 last year.

“Following a careful review it was concluded that there was insufficient evidence to prove the criminal intent required to prosecute any potential charge,” she said.

“A no prosecution decision was issued on January 4 2019 and the police charges were withdrawn in court.”

South Antrim DUP MLA Trevor Clarke said: “People will undoubtedly be asking exactly what this individual would need to have done in order to be facing trial.”

Mr Donaldson was accused of having an imitation AK47 with intent to cause fear or violence, doing a provocative act “by chanting sectarian slogans”, improper use of a communication network to send a message he knew to be false, using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to provoke a breach of the peace and possessing a single round of ammunition in suspicious circumstances.

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