Court hears Ballymena man believed he had a microchip implanted in his body and he was under surveillance

Court hears Ballymena man believed he had a microchip implanted in his body and he was under surveillance

A COURT was told a Ballymena man believed he had a microchip implanted in his body and he was under surveillance.

The comment was made at the town's Magistrates' Court (main picture) by a defence barrister for Andrew David Mitchell (36), of Dunvale.

The defendant is due to be sentenced for offences after a previous court heard a man was naked from the waist down outside a house in the Ballymena area around six o'clock in the morning.

Mitchell admitted a charge of being at a premises for an 'unlawful purpose'.

The charge relates to Ballygarvey Road near Ballymena on September 15 last year.

The defendant also admitted possessing cannabis.

An original charge of committing an act of a 'lewd, obscene, and disgusting nature and outraging public decency by masturbating outside a rear window of a private house' was withdrawn.

The full details of the case were not outlined to the earlier court but a defence barrister said there had been a "very short clip" of "footage" of an incident.

The lawyer said the defendant had been outside a person's home at around 6am wearing a t-shirt.

The lawyer said one of the witnesses said the defendant was "unclothed from the waist down"

The defence barrister said there was an "inference" that the defendant had "masturbated".

The lawyer had said a "psychiatrist report" was being obtained which "will probably go into the nature of these offences".

A previous High Court bail hearing in the case was told a man returned home from work to discover CCTV footage of a stranger masturbating while staring in a window at his unsuspecting wife.

A prosecutor told the High Court a homeowner checked a bird watching-type camera when he got back from work on September 15.

The motion-sensitive system at his property was activated just before 6.30am.

The prosecutor had said: “It showed a male who was unknown to him staring through the window, masturbating. His wife was present inside the room where the window was located and unaware of anyone being outside.

“But having learnt of what was captured on the home camera she has become extremely upset and distressed.”

Opposing bail at that court, the prosecutor had said police believed it was Mitchell and having travelled a distance from his home it "paints a picture of a determined individual".

A defence lawyer had told the bail hearing: “It seems the person seen to be masturbating at the scene was wearing a dark coloured beanie hat and face mask.”

At the bail hearing, Lord Justice Maguire described the incident as “sinister” and upsetting for the victims.

At Ballymena Magistrates' Court in a separate case Mitchell was convicted of intentionally exposing his private parts after an early morning incident when a male wearing "leggings with the crotch cut out" was seen by a female at the back of her home at Beechwood Avenue in the Leighinmohr area of the town.

On a later date - a court also ruled the same man was again outside the same property - this time around midnight when he was wearing a dressing gown under which his "bare" leg could be seen.

The court heard the female had been caused "alarm and distress".

Mitchell had contested charges of exposing his private parts on February 4 last year and a second charge of harassment of the female between February 4 and March 1 last year.

District Judge Nigel Broderick had convicted the defendant of the charges.

The court heard police viewed CCTV which showed a male "around 5ft 10, skinny, wearing a beanie hat/mask, high top style trainers, dressing gown and no trousers" on March 1 last year.

Around half an hour later, at 12.40am on March 1, police stopped Mitchell a short distance away at Grange Road who was carrying a bag containing a dressing gown.

The court heard police said the male stopped at Grange Road was around 5ft 10, skinny-build, wearing high-top style trainers.

The court was told the female believed it was the same man, who had on February, 2021, also been outside her house.

Police were also given CCTV of that incident.

A police officer told the court CCTV of both incidents showed a male of the "same build, height and gait" and "the way he entered and exited the property" was similar.

The officer said the culprit had been wearing a "hat and a ski mask".

The officer said Mitchell had denied the allegations when interviewed by police.

The defendant told the court he was "out for a walk" when he was stopped by police on March 1.

He said he had a bag with him containing a dressing gown, pair of shorts, t-shirt, coat, scarf, gloves, a pair of shoes and bandanas.

The defendant told the court he "collects" bandanas.

He said he normally kept shorts and a t-shirt "because I play a lot of football".

Mitchell said he was out walking after midnight because "I have a really bad sleep pattern. I could sit up maybe three days. I play games. It doesn't matter what night it is, if I want to go for a walk I will go for a walk and if I do I will take my bag of supplies with me - my coat, scarf, gloves. It doesn't matter what hour".

The defendant was stopped in the Grange Road area but denied being outside the woman's house at Beechwood Avenue on February 4 and exposing himself.

He also denied being at the house on March 1 wearing a dressing gown with no trousers on.

Mitchell had told the court: "It wasn't me. I wouldn't expose myself to anybody. I have no malice towards anybody".

A defence barrister said there was just a "broad description" of a male on both occasions and the male's face could not be seen.

He said there was no exposure charge relating to March 1.

The defence lawyer said the judge had to be satisfied "beyond reasonable doubt" that the defendant was guilty of the charges.

Judge Broderick had said the "burden of proof" rests with the prosecution.

He said it was a "circumstantial case" based on a number of strands including evidence given by the female.

He said she was a "reliable" witness.

The judge said CCTV showed a male outside a property at 6.40am on February 4 and around midnight on March 1.

The male was at the back of the female's house "and I can understand why that would be concerning and upsetting for any householder".

The judge said on the first occasion the female "confronted" the male who "had the crotch area of their leggings, as she described them, cut out and exposed his genitals to her and then quickly made off".

Judge Broderick said nobody was detected on that occasion.

Around a month later, on March 1, a male was again at her "back door and on this occasion the male person is wearing a dressing gown and it is quite clear from the CCTV footage that beneath the dressing gown the male is not wearing any lower clothing in terms of leggings or jeans because you can see a bare leg".

On that occasion, the judge said the female did not open her door but saw the male through a window at the back door.

Judge Broderick said another strand of circumstantial evidence was that around 30 minutes after the March 1 report, police stopped the defendant and he was wearing a beanie hat and a "face covering described as a ski mask, some face covering in any event".

The judge said the defendant described it as a "snood or something of that nature" and inside a bag there was a "dressing gown".

The judge said police said there was nothing else in the bag but the defendant said there were a number of items in the bag. Judge Broderick said he accepted the police evidence on that matter.

Judge Broderick said there was "some dispute" as to whether Mitchell was wearing trainers on March 1 and the judge said he had "no doubt" he had been.

The judge said he didn't find Mitchell credible or reliable as a witness and found his evidence in court "somewhat evasive,vague and I don't believe he is a witness of truth".

Judge Broderick said the female at the house believed it was the same male at her home on February 4 and March 1 and the judge said he was "satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr Mitchell was the same male on both occasions".

He said the description on March 1 matched that of Mitchell who was found with a dressing gown in his bag.

The judge said there was also the description from the victim who had been "face to face" with the culprit and he convicted Mitchell of the charges.

Sentencing in the cases had been adjourned for pre-sentence reports.

At court this week, the defence lawyer said the defendant has "psychiatric issues" and added: "One of the things Mr Mitchell said to Probation was that he felt that he had a microchip and he was being surveilled".

The lawyer said a number of years ago the defendant had accused a health professional of "being part of a conspiracy that had microchipped his arm and he was under surveillance".

The case has been adjourned to July 21.