Coleraine man banned from making ‘rude gestures’ during band parades

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A man is believed to be one of the first people in Northern Ireland to have received a court order specifically banning him from using abusive language towards loyalist band members or making ‘rude gestures’ during band parades.

Jonathan Neill (20), of Westbourne Crescent in The Heights area of Coleraine, was hit with the order at a court in the town on Thursday.

Neill was one of several people - both nationalist and loyalist - arrested as part of a special police initiative called ‘Operation Chimera’ after trouble erupted at a Battle of the Somme commemoration parade in Coleraine in 2014.

Neill previously pleaded guilty to using disorderly behaviour in the Pates Lane/Somerset Drive area of Coleraine during the disturbances on July 1 last year.

His band parade abuse ban lasts for 18 months and was part of a £500 binding over order for him to keep the peace and be of good behaviour.

The order specifically states he ‘must not use abusive language towards band members or make rude gestures during any band parades’.

The court heard that Neill had previously rioted in the Bridge Street and Railway Road areas of Coleraine on two dates in 2013 and he was handed down a six months sentence, suspended for three years.

The court also heard that during a search at his home in December last year, Neill obstructed police.

Neill was lying in bed and told police to “f--k off” and that they were not taking his phone which he placed under a quilt before throwing it across the room causing it to break and when he tried to leave he was arrested for obstruction. He was fined £250 for that offence.

District Judge Liam McNally told Neill he had previously deferred sentences in his cases in an effort to try and break the offending and he said although that was not fully achieved he said it does appear Neill is making an effort to reduce his criminality.

Judge McNally told Neill he had “really used up all of of your cat’s lives” and said if there is any further offending he will be jailed.

Ian George Hanson (36), of Glebe Avenue in the Harpurs Hill estate in Coleraine, was also fined £200 for being disorderly at the Somme parade.

And sentencing on Patrick Nigel Robert Simpson (44), of Somerset Drive, for disorderly behaviour was put back to November 23.

Last year, Coleraine police initiated ‘Operation Chimera’ to identify individuals believed to have been involved in offences in the area of Somerset Drive, Pates Lane and Killowen Street during a Battle of the Somme commemoration parade on Tuesday July 1.

An arrest operation was initiated on the morning of Monday 4 August following a number of weeks of planning and co-ordination with at least nine arrests in the beginning.

Inspector Ian Armour said at the time: “Police are committed to keeping people safe. The vast majority of Coleraine people want to lead positive lives, free from violence and threat. There can be no justification for disorder and this planned operation shows that we are committed to keeping communities safe.

“We have been planning for Operation Chimera since the first week of July and so were able to make swift arrests. For those arrested yesterday and in the coming days, due legal process will follow and where sufficient evidence exists, we will bring charges or forward files to the PPS.

“Police will continue to do everything we can to make Coleraine a safer place for everyone.”