Man kicked off on bus after refusing to wear face mask

Man kicked off on bus after refusing to wear face mask

The case was heard at Newry Magistrates' Court.

Staff reporter

Reporter:

Staff reporter

KICKING off after refusing to wear a face mask on a bus has led to a suspended prison sentence being imposed on a Banbridge man.

Thomas Wilson, 31, of Pinley Drive, was convicted of attempted criminal damage and disorderly behaviour at Newry Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday (20 April).

On 10 December last year, police received a report of a disturbance on a Translink bus outside Banbridge PSNI.

Speaking to the driver on arrival, he alleged that when making a stop on the Killycomain Road in Portadown, he had requested that the defendant wear a face covering before coming onto the vehicle.

This led to a verbal altercation between both parties with the defendant stating he was exempt.

The court heard that at no time did Wilson, sitting at the rear of the bus, comply with wearing a mask and a further altercation took place between him and the driver.

Wilson refused to get off the bus when asked and became aggressive whereby he kicked the door of the vehicle.

Concerned for his safety, the driver headed for Banbridge police station where officers spoke to the defendant and cautioned him, Wilson making no reply.

Internal CCTV of the incident was seized and confirmed the defendant being aggressive whilst on board.

A defence counsel for Wilson advised he was required to be the sole carer for his daughter and that he had relied on buses as a means of transport to his work as an apprentice carpenter, but that following the incident he was “no longer welcome” on Translink services and has subsequently seen his employment fall through.

The court was also told that although not consenting to community service, citing childcare commitments, the defendant had been “more than respectful” to the probation worker.

Addressing the defendant, who was appearing by video link, Deputy District Judge Anne Marshall asked: “Mr Wilson, why can’t you do community service when your daughter is at school?”

“My mental health wouldn’t be that great at the minute,” he replied. “There may be several reasons.”

“If you're making excuses at this stage, the chances of you actually doing a community service order are slim, so that leaves two options,” said the judge.

“Those are either immediate custody or suspended custody. You have a record before me for disorderly behaviour, possession of drugs, theft, harassment and a breach of a previous suspended sentence,” she added.

“Bus drivers are public servants, going about their jobs and they don’t need this kind of hassle,” continued judge Marshall.

She sentenced him to two months in prison, but suspended it for a period of 18 months.

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