A decision to prosecute a Belfast man for stealing cannabis legitimises the alleged victim’s ownership of banned drugs, it has been claimed.
Lawyers expressed astonishment that a charge of such a theft has been brought against 24-year-old Connor Haughey.
One solicitor who learned of the case said he had never known of any such previous prosecution in more than 20 years practice.
Haughey, whose address was given as HMP Maghaberry, appeared by video-link at Belfast Magistrates’ Court on a total of four charges.
They include allegations of assaulting a man, stealing a quantity of cannabis from him, and possession of the Class B drug.
He is also accused of receiving stolen goods, namely a bicycle.
The alleged offences are connected to an incident at Haughey’s home in June last year.
In court on Friday his lawyer confirmed he is pleading not guilty to the charges.
Marie Hans also raised concerns about the decision to pursue a case against her client for allegedly stealing cannabis.
The case was adjourned for two weeks, by which stage that charge is expected to have been reviewed.
Haughey will remain in custody until then.
Following the hearing Ms Hans questioned the decision to formally accuse him of stealing illegal drugs.
“How can someone be properly before the court on a charge of theft of illegal drugs?” she asked.
“Essentially the prosecution are legitimising the possession by the injured party of such a substance.”
Ms Hans added: “It’s incredible that a prosecutor would direct a prosecution on such a charge.”