Loyalist protests accused ‘was trying to stop trouble’

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A marshal accused of waving a walking stick during disorder in Belfast was only trying to stop trouble, a court has heard.

George Patton denies a charge of disorderly behaviour amid loyalist protests surrounding an anti-internment parade in the city last August.

The 58-year-old told a judge he had been asked to help control younger ones in the crowd.

Video footage of the incident was played during the contested hearing at Belfast Magistrates’ Court.

It appeared to show protestors pressed up against riot squad officers in the Peter’s Hill area. At one stage police water cannon was deployed.

Prosecutors claim Patton, of Glenbryn Parade in the city, could be seen holding the stick up and directing it towards a police shield.

In evidence the defendant said he was a qualified Orange Order marshal.

He told the court community representatives had sought his assistance that day on a one-off basis.

“When I had the stick I was pointing to the officer that young lads needed to get out of the road,” he said.

“They were standing on railings, some in the street were throwing stones.

“I was pointing and telling the officer ‘that’s where the problem is’, if they could move them along.”

Patton had the walking stick with him due to a bad knee, the court heard.

In cross-examination he denied waving it about during the incident.

“I was getting pushed to and fro and I’m trying to get them (protestors) off the wall,” he insisted.

District Judge Amanda Henderson is expected to rule on the case on Wednesday after viewing CCTV evidence again.