Bail for potential murder trial witness

A Derry man who was described in court as a potential witness in a murder trial and who left the city after his home was attacked by vigilante group Republican Action Against Drugs has been released on bail.

Aaron Thornton, of Dove Gardens, Derry faces a total of twelve charges relating to offences between August 15 and November 21, last year.

The offences  include criminal damage, possession of an offensive weapon and failing to answer bail as soon as reasonably possible.

Opposing bail, an investigating officer said the 24-year-old’s home was attacked by the “illegal group who target members of the community for drug activity and anti-social behaviour.”

He told the court that police feared Thornton may commit further offences and revealed that the defendant had tried to evade police in the past by hiding in a hot press.

Defence solicitor Seamus Quigley told the court it was difficult for the court to deal with an objection for bail “based upon the fact that an illegal organisation have an interest in him.”

Mr Quigley added that the 24-year-old did not have a bad record and it was not inevitable Thornton would receive a custodial sentence if he was convicted of the offences.

Granting bail, District Judge Barney McElholm imposed strict conditions. These include a surety, electronic tag, a curfew and abnning the 24-year-old from contacting the alleged injured parties.

Thornton will appear in court again on April 7.