A man convicted of possessing a firework without a licence told a police officer the PSNI must have “planted” it in his van, a court heard last week.
In court, Kevin Barry Collins (39), of Churchfields in Rasharkin, accepted he no longer believed police had placed the item in his van but he claimed he did not know it was there as it was part of rubbish to be dumped.
He contested the charge but at Coleraine Magistrates Court he was convicted of the offence and fined £300.
A police officer told the court he stopped the defendant at a vehicle checkpoint on the evening of December 16 last year and when a van door was slid open a firework was sitting in a tray.
The officer told the court Collins told him: “I haven’t seen it, you must have planted it”.
The defendant took the stand and said he used the van as part of his work as a plasterer but that he also managed The Saffron Inn pub.
The court heard he accepted the firework was not ‘planted’ but he was unaware it was in the vehicle.
He said bar cleaners threw rubbish into the back of the van to be taken to skips and he had not seen the firework.
Referring to the police, the defendant told the court: “I’m regularly getting stopped and searched, harassed, ‘tortured,’ by them steady”.
He said he had never seen the firework before and confirmed that at the time he said to police ‘did you plant that?’
District Judge Liam McNally said Collins accepted the firework was not planted and that it was in his van but he didn’t know anything about it.
The judge said he was sure that if the defendant had given that explanation to the police at the time that due consideration would have been given to it.
He said it would have been quite easy for Collins to say about the van being used to take away rubbish from the bar but he had failed to do and he found him guilty of the offence.