Charge of assaulting a PSNI officer dismissed in Derry JSA case

A Derry man who was charged with assaulting a police officer after being stopped under section 24 of the Justice and Security Act (JSA) has had his charges dismissed after a judge ruled that the officer was not acting 'in lawful execution of his duty.'

At Derry District Court, 51 year old Anthony Lancaster of 56, Circular Road appeared on a single charge of assaulting a PSNI Constable on 26 November 2011 in the Bogside area of the city.

Mr Lancaster pleaded not guilty to the charge which related to an incident when along with fellow Derry man Marvin Canning, both men were stopped at Westland Avenue by police officers under section 24 of the Justice and Security (JSA) (NI) Act 2007.

Mr Canning was one of three persons who successfully challenged the use of sections 21 and 24 of the JSA in the Court of Appeal on May 9 this year.

After submissions from his legal team that the PSNI had been acting illegally, District Judge Barney McElholm ruled there was no case to answer adding: “It was clear at the relevant time there was no Code of Practice in place. The Quality Law requirement therefore cannot be satisfied so the Constable was not acting in lawful execution of his duty.”

Mr Lancaster’s solicitor, Ciarán Shiels of Madden & Finucane said after court they welcomed the decision.
Its thought the implications of the ruling will have a wide-ranging effect on similar prosecutions currently before the Courts.