Mystery surrounds how a police officer with no connection to the Stormont Estate was able to use the address for court having been returned for trial on a charge of perverting the course of justice.
Appearing for a committal hearing was Luke McCabe (32) who is listed on court papers as from Stormont Estate Management, Stormont Estate in Belfast.
He is charged with intending to pervert the course of justice, by emailing a forged letter to police in Strabane stating he was insured to drive a Jaguar car on September 9, 2022 during which a road traffic collision occurred, when in fact he was not covered by the policy.
A prosecuting lawyer told Strabane Magistrates’ Court there is a case to answer which was agreed by District Judge Oonagh Mullan.
No further details surrounding the circumstances of the alleged offending were disclosed during the short hearing where McCabe spoke only to confirm his identity and that he understood the charges against him.
He declined to call witnesses or give evidence on his own behalf at this stage in proceedings.
Remanding McCabe on £500 bail Judge Mullan enquired as to his address to which a defence barrister said: “For the purposes of bail, it is Stormont Estate and the actual address can be provided to the court in writing, but not read out.”
McCabe was ordered to appear for arraignment at Dungannon Crown Court on February 6.
It remains unclear as to why the address of Stormont Estate was used as police officers and personnel can benefit from using PSNI headquarters by default.
The estate falls under the remit of the Department of Finance who were asked if McCabe is or was a member of staff and if Stormont Estates Management were aware the address was being used in this way?
Also, was permission sought/obtained to use this address for court purposes and is this a regular practice? If so, is there a policy in this regard?
As the case came to court by way of first appearance indictable summons and having been committed for trial, Stormont Estate Management remains the stipulated bail address, (despite not being residential) and therefore published accordingly, so was this agreed beforehand?
A spokesperson replied: “The Department of Finance was unaware of the Stormont Estate Management address being used within the noted court case. The individual is not employed by, or connected to, the Department of Finance Stormont Management Unit. The Department has made contact with the NI Courts and Tribunal Service to alert them to this matter.”
Meanwhile the PSNI were asked to clarify McCabe’s current employment status to which a spokesperson replied: “The individual remains suspended.”