Wheelchair user rammed police officer in Belfast protest

Man receives suspended sentence for assaulting policeman at loyalist protest

A motorised wheelchair user convicted of assaulting a policeman by ramming him at a loyalist protest in north Belfast has received a four-month suspended jail sentence.

Samuel Baxter was also ordered to pay £400 compensation to the officer for trapping his leg against a Landrover.

Belfast Magistrates’ Court heard the 53-year-old became angry and hostile at being denied access through security lines on Twaddell Avenue.

Baxter, of Canmore Close, was also found guilty of disorderly behaviour during one of the nightly demonstrations staged in the area.

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At last month’s contested hearing, police witnesses said he repeatedly directed a wheelchair – weighing up to 28 stone – at them on January 23rd.

One Constable suffered bruising to his shin in the incident.

Baxter claimed he was only in the area for family reasons and had no involvement in protests being staged over a disputed Orange Order parade.

He said he had been trying to pass through the police cordon to get his friend to hospital for a medical emergency.

But an Inspector testified that the defendant was swearing and abusive. He told District Judge Ken Nixon that Baxter rammed his wheelchair into the front of officers.

The incident was part of attempts to incite a crowd filming the scenes on mobile phones, it was alleged.

After the defendant had moved off the Inspector claimed someone else shouted: “I hope the IRA blow your legs off.”

Alleging the situation had been staged to rile the crowd, he said Baxter had emerged with a crowd around him already brandishing cameras.

“This set-up happens on a nightly basis and has done for the past 400-odd nights,” the officer told the hearing.

Judge Nixon imposed a four-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, for the assault on police and ordered compensation be paid.

Baxter was also given a concurrent one-month suspended term for the disorderly behaviour.