PPS confirms no prosecution following alleged incident at North Belfast shopping centre

23 June 2020

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) can confirm a decision has been taken not to prosecute a 46-year-old man reported in connection with an alleged incident at a shopping centre in North Belfast.

One individual was reported by the Police Service of Northern Ireland in connection with events captured on a video clip circulated on social media early last month. This man was considered for charges of common assault, possession of an offensive weapon and disorderly behaviour. After careful consideration of the available evidence submitted by police, a senior prosecutor concluded that it did not provide a reasonable prospect of conviction for any offence.

The evidence examined included the video clip which was approximately 20 seconds in duration.

A PPS spokesperson said: “The key evidence in this case was a clip of video footage which clearly only captured part of a continuing incident. 

“It was considered that the footage, of itself, was incapable of providing a reasonable prospect of conviction for any offence. It did not provide any context to the events which had been recorded such as how any confrontation had commenced or the circumstances in which a man holding what appeared to be a thin metal rod came to be in possession of it. 

“There was no evidence available from any witnesses that could have provided the missing context. In these circumstances it was considered that it would not be possible for the prosecution to prove to the criminal standard of proof any narrative of events consistent with the commission of a criminal offence.”

The spokesperson said consideration of this case was undertaken in line with PPS independent decision-making procedures.

“The evidence available was insufficient to meet the Test for Prosecution, as set out in the PPS Code for Prosecutors,” the spokesperson added. 

“We acknowledge the level of concern caused by the video after it was circulated on social media, and we appreciate this outcome will be disappointing to those who share those concerns.

“However, we can offer reassurance that this decision was reached only after a most careful examination and consideration of the evidence and information available.”

ENDS

Guidance:

  • All decisions by the PPS are taken strictly in accordance with the Test for Prosecution which involves two stages. The Test for Prosecution is met if, in relation to an identifiable suspect, the available evidence is sufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of a conviction (the Evidential Test) and if prosecution is in the public interest (the Public Interest Test). The Evidential Test must be passed first before the Public Interest Test is considered. Further information can be found in the PPS Code for Prosecutors. The PPS takes all of its decisions in accordance with the Code for Prosecutors, which can be found by clicking the link.
  • For further information, please email the PPS Communications Unit at ppspressoffice@ppsni.gov.uk inside office hours or telephone 07940 284404 if you have an urgent out of hours query.