Northern Ireland news

Man accused of daubing IRA graffiti tells court he was only touching up previous slogan

The High Court in Belfast

A MAN accused of daubing IRA graffiti on a carpet manufacturer’s premises claimed he was only highlighting an existing slogan, the High Court has heard.

Prosecutors said Stefan Hyde (28) was arrested at the scene in Portadown covered in paint which he then smeared over the inside of a PSNI vehicle.

Hyde, of Woodside Green in the town, was refused bail on charges connected to the incident on November 26.

Police went to the Garvaghy Road area following reports that a man had acted aggressively and threatened to smash a resident’s windows.

Hyde was located while painting the letters ‘IRA’ on the side of the nearby Ulster Carpets building, the court heard.

Despite being warned about his behaviour he continued to shout and swear, and was taken into custody.

During interviews he denied any threat to smash windows, claiming that a man at the property had chased him with a knife.

A prosecution lawyer said Hyde accepted the graffiti incident and told police: “I was covered in paint, I could hardly deny it.”

The prosecutor added: “He said there was already a slogan up there and that he wanted to highlight the IRA bit.”

Opposing bail, she expressed concerns for Hyde’s personal safety.

“Community tensions have risen in line with his recent behaviour,” counsel said.

Hyde faces charges of criminal damage, threats to damage property, and disorderly behaviour.

Defence barrister Conor Coulter argued that his client had been attempting to highlight the paramilitary past of an individual referred to in the graffiti.

Denying bail, Mr Justice Huddleston cited the risk of re-offending.

The judge said: “To a large extent he’s the author of his own misfortune.”

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