Violent offences order imposed on man who assaulted court staff

Ballymena Courthouse. INBT02-213AC
Ballymena Courthouse. INBT02-213AC

A man who was disorderly inside Ballymena Courthouse where he assaulted security staff and police by using a walking stick as an offensive weapon has been back in the same court - this time in handcuffs.

Jonathan Gregory Wilkinson (49), of Glenwood, Ahoghill, committed offences at Ballymena Courthouse in early January and subsequently pleaded guilty.

Now he has become one of the first people in the area to be served with an interim VOPO - a Violent Offences Prevention Order.

Previously, Wilkinson admitted assaulting a male occasioning him actual bodily harm; assaulting and resisting a police officer; disorderly behaviour; possession of an offensive weapon; assaulting another male and damaging a police radio.

At an earlier sitting, District Judge Peter King said there were aggravating features in the case including that “outrageously the offence took place in the confines of a courthouse” before he added: “That can never be acceptable.”

He said the incidents happened while Wilkinson was on bail for previous offences and he was “deeply concerned” that the issues spilt over and involved family members, police and court staff.

Wilkinson has also admitted other charges including making threats to kill and a making a threat to damage property in December last year.

And he has also pleaded guilty to interfering with a motor vehicle causing danger.

Wilkinson was back in the dock at Ballymena Magistrates Court on Thursday and this time he was in handcuffs.

Judge King said the defendant had served the equivalent of five months while on remand.

VOPOs only became available in Northern Ireland in December and the first one was given in January to a man from the Coleraine area.

The exact terms of Wilkinson’s VOPO were not outlined in open court.

He was released on £500 bail and is to have no contact with injured parties and has to engage with the Probation Board.

The judge said it was an “extremely difficult case” and he said he wanted to deal with all the matters in April and ensure a package is in place that protects the victims and prevents re-offending.