Man to stand trial on UDA terror charges

An alleged Ulster Defence Association boss is to stand trial on terrorist charges, a judge has ordered.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 24th April 2018, 2:22 pm
Updated Tuesday, 24th April 2018, 2:26 pm
Almost 30 suspected members of the UDAs C Company battalion are under investigation
Almost 30 suspected members of the UDAs C Company battalion are under investigation

David ‘Dee’ Coleman is accused of holding a high-ranking position within a loyalist unit based in the lower Shankill area of west Belfast.

The 32-year-old appeared before the city’s magistrates’ court for a hearing to determine if he has a case to answer.

He faces charges of belonging to a proscribed organisation and possession of documents likely to be useful to terrorism.

The alleged offences, which include having an oath of membership of the UDA, were committed between November 2016 and October 2017.

Coleman, with a previous address at Hopewell Crescent in Belfast, was arrested during a major operation by detectives from the PSNI’s Paramilitary Crime Taskforce.

Nearly 30 suspected members of the UDA’s C Company battalion are under investigation, a previous court was told.

The unit is allegedly involved in extorting local businesses, punishment beatings, intimidation, drugs and loan sharking.

According to the police and prosecution case Coleman held a position of second in command, with telephone evidence allegedly linking him to the gathering of membership money for the outlawed organisation.

He was brought into the dock for the preliminary enquiry a day after his latest bail application was refused.

Coleman confirmed that he understood the charges against him and declined to call witnesses or give evidence at this stage.

His solicitor did not contest submissions that he has a case to answer.

District Judge Fiona Bagnall then granted a prosecution application to have Coleman returned for Crown Court trial.

He was returned to custody until his arraignment on a date to be fixed.

Mrs Bagnall also granted a request for Coleman to have two counsel at trial, based on the evidence against him.

It followed defence submissions that a novel legal point has been raised.

“The police supposition is that he’s the leader of a criminal gang, and one of the key parts of evidence is the text messages,” Coleman’s lawyer told the court.

“Police say they can connect him to various other people who received the messages.

“Yet there’s been a deliberate decision taken to separate him out and not prosecute others.”