Show of force by accused East Belfast loyalists cannot return to live in city, judge says
A man who allegedly played a “leading role” in a loyalist show of force in east Belfast cannot return to live in the city, a judge said today.
Derek Lammey, 56, faces charges related to the gathering of 50 to 60 masked men in Pitt Park earlier this year.
He is currently on bail at an address in Co Down, with conditions including a ban on entering the area or contacting any other suspicious participants.
Lammey sought to change those conditions after co-defendant Stephen Matthews was granted permission to return to the city on Monday.
But a judge at the Belfast Court of First Instance rejected his request after citing the risk of recidivism.
Lammey, of Spring Place in the city, faces charges of illegal assembly and brawl in connection with the high-profile February 2 incident.
Stephen Matthews, 58, of Pansy Street in Belfast, and his 34-year-old son David Matthews, of Millreagh in Dundonald, are charged with the same offenses.
The masked men who arrived at Pitt Park at two pitches are believed to be linked to East Belfast UVF, prosecutors have alleged.
Contested claims have been made that 11 people living in the area fled their homes and took refuge at a nearby community center for eight days.
Opposing Lammey’s offer to return to his family home, a crown attorney highlighted his alleged involvement in the incident.
“Mr. Lammey and Mr. Stephen Matthews were playing leadership roles, leading the first group,” she told the court.
“The police point of view is that this rally was in fact a show of force and had paramilitary overtones. “
The three defendants deny any involvement and are not charged with any paramilitary offense.
District Judge Steven Keown has learned that tensions remain high in the area.
Defense attorney Richard McConkey argued that Lammey followed strict bail conditions, which included being prohibited from being with more than three people in public.
“He found it very difficult outside of the region where he has lived all his life,” said Mr. McConkey.
However, denying the request to change the bail, Judge Keown confirmed, “I am concerned about the risk of recidivism. ”
To get the latest news straight to your inbox, sign up for our free newsletter.