Judge at Newtownards Magistrates Court 'refuses jurisdiction' in 'intimidation' case

Judge at Newtownards Magistrates Court 'refuses jurisdiction' in 'intimidation' case

A JUDGE at Newtownards Magistrates' Court has 'refused jurisdiction' in the case of a Comber man accused of intimidating a 'witness' on three occasions in May and June last year and damaging an electronic monitoring tag.

The defendant is Stephen William McCleland (33), of Castlehill Park.

District Judge Mark Hamill said: "I am challenging the prosecution".

He said prosecutors were claiming he didn't "have the power to refuse jurisdiction" but he added: "I am doing it anyway, I do not care".

He said prosecutors could "go to the Crown Court or Divisional Court and say 'this District Judge will not listen to reason'."

Judge Hamill said the case relates to the alleged intimidation of a witness on three occasions "whilst a Crown Court process is ongoing".

He continued: "Parallel to that, allegedly, a main witness in a Crown Court case is subject to three instances of intimidation".

Judge Hamill said prosecutors could "Judicially Review" him but regarding him dealing with the case in the Magistrates' Court he added: "I will not tolerate it. I have refused jurisdiction".

He added: "I want to shine a spotlight on the practice of the PPS (Public Prosecution Service) in taking unsuitable cases to the Magistrates' Court and this is a classic of it's kind."