Judge seals court for trial of man who rammed garda car
A controversial judge said no one should enter or leave a courtroom while a case was in progress and also ordered the court to be "sealed" by gardai as a security measure.
The unusual move was taken by District Court Judge Sean MacBride (pictured) where a Northern Ireland man appeared on a charge in Monaghan relating to an incident where a garda van was rammed close to the Border by a lorry.
The judge interrupted the proceedings to query the identity of a man who entered the courtroom dressed in civilian clothes.
The man responded from the body of the court that he was "an armed officer" who was directed to enter the courtroom by a garda superintendent.
Judge MacBride thanked the officer who remained in the public gallery for the duration of the hearing.
The case involved a 23-year-old man who allegedly was driving a lorry which rammed a garda van during a high-speed chase on a road near the south Armagh border in Co Monaghan.
Ciaran Duffy, with an address at 18 Blackrock Road, Crossmaglen, who pleaded not guilty, was convicted and given a 12-month jail term. The charge was one of causing criminal damage to the garda vehicle at Carrickaslane, Castleblayney, on October 15, 2010.
Sergeant Tom Millar told the court that while he was driving the garda van in pursuit of the lorry, which had earlier failed to stop for the gardai, the lorry rammed his vehicle and the driving seat was broken by the impact, causing him some back injury.
The judge said he was satisfied Duffy was linked to "a criminal element operating along the Border" and he also imposed a two-year driving ban.
During the hearing it was stated that the lorry involved in the ramming incident had escaped from gardai and travelled across the Border into the North.
Recognisances for an appeal were fixed at €5,000 plus an approved independent surety of €10,000, and, in the event of an appeal, Duffy was also ordered to surrender his passport and sign on at Castleblayney garda station.