A 49-year-old man from Youghal in Co Cork, who constantly sang ‘Born Free’ when he appeared in court in Derry on Monday, has been remanded in custody.
Nicholas Roper was arrested in in Altnagelvin Hospital on Saturday night and charged with disorderly behaviour in the hospital's accident and emergency department.
When his case was called at the city’s Magistrate’s Court, a police sergeant told District Judge Barney McElholm that the defendant had stripped naked in a police van and was refusing to come into the court room.
Mr McElholm said if it became necessary for him to hold the court hearing in front of the defendant standing outside the police van, he would do so.
Several minutes later the defendant appeared in the dock fully clothed.
As the court clerk read out the charge of disorderly behaviour to the defendant, the defendant started singing ‘Born Free’ and continued to sing the song throughout the hearing.
He ignored questions from the court clerk, from the sergeant and from the judge.
The defendant refused to say if he was guilty or not guilty of the charge. Mr McElholm said because each defendant was entitled to the presumption of innocent, a not guilty plea would be entered on his behalf.
When asked if he wished to apply for bail, the defendant continued singing and again ignored the question.
Mr McElholm said he was not refusing bail, but he was remanding the defendant in custody because he had not applied for bail.
The judge then asked the prison officers present to ensure the defendant was clinically assessed when in custody.
The police sergeant told the court that after his arrest the defendant was clinically assessed by appropriate medical experts who said he was fit to appear in court.
The defendant was remanded in custody until July 20th and Mr McElholm informed him that he was entitled to apply to the High Court for bail.