Man claimed police ‘harrassed him due to his religion’

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A man spoken to by police as he has was parked in Ballymacash claimed that the officer was “harassing” him due to his religion.

William Todd (52) drove away from the officer and failed to stop when police followed him and signalled him to do so.

He admitted a charge of failing to stop for police, a charge of obstructing police was withdrawn.

The court heard that in the early hours of August 3, Mr Todd, of Edinburgh Park, Omagh had been parked at a junction, police approached him and asked why the vehicle was there.

Prosecution said that Todd proceeded to lock the vehicle, wound up the window, reversed and drove away.

Police followed and made a number of attempts to get the defendant to stop. They continued to pursue him and he was arrested once he finally stopped.

Representing himself at Lisburn Magistrates’ Court Todd claimed that as because he been parked in the Ballymacash area, the police officer knew his religion and this is why he was “intimidating him.”

“I was stopped on the side of the road, visiting family in the area. This was marching season, the pavements were painted red, white and blue and we have a nationalist police officer who is intimidating a man of the opposite religion.

“It was late at night and I felt it was an invasion of my privacy. I was in the area of where the Ballymacash bonfire was. All the lamposts were covered in flags, that’s the situation.”

District Judge Rosie Watters said she didn’t see how there being flags on the lamppost affected Mr Todd.

He said: “With an officer’s name like Damian.” Judge Watters interrupted him and said: “Maybe you should stop there.”

Judge Rosie Watters completely dismissed any suggestion that there was anything sectarian in the police officer’s investigation or the incident.

She added: “I think you are trying to turn this into a sectarian incident when there wasn’t anything sectarian in any way.

“All you had to do was stay and answer his questions.”

Mr Todd said he is under a lot of stress and felt stressed during the incident and he couldn’t cope.

“I have mental health issues, I couldn’t cope with it. I accept that it was an error of judgement.”

District Judge Rosie Watters imposed a fine of £200 and imposed the £15 levy.

Mr Todd asked could she reconsider the amount of the fine as he has “seven children to look after.”

Judge Watters refused but extended the length of time Mr Todd had to pay the fine.