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  1. ITV Report

Three-year jail term for man who admitted being member of UDA

David Coleman pictured with a UDA Flag. Credit: PSNI

A 32-year-old man has been handed a three-year jail sentence after he admitted being a member of the Ulster Defence Association, and of possessing a document bearing an oath of allegiance to the organisation.

David Coleman, a father-of-one from The Green in Holywood, was charged with two terrorist offences following searches of properties connected to him last summer.

In one property, police saw a black UFF flag flying at the front of the house, while a mobile phone was located in a second house.

A prosecutor told BelfastCrown Court that images were found on the phone, including pictures of Coleman at UDA/C Company murals on the Shankill.

The court heard further searches were carried out, and on October 17th last year police recovered a document used to swear an oath of allegiance to the UDA and which bore Coleman's fingerprints.

A document used to swear an oath of allegiance to the UDA. Credit: PSNI

Despite initially denying the offences, Coleman - who the court heard was originally from the Shankill area of Belfast - subsequently pleaded guilty to the charges, and was handed a three-year sentence.

Sending Mr Coleman to prison, Judge Geoffrey Miller said the evidence presented to the court suggested the 32-year old's responsibility within the UDA was at a "local level" as opposed to him being a "directing figure.

"The Judge also described the UDA as an illegal organisation steeped in "brutal thuggery, extortion and drug dealing ... which offers nothing to the community it leeches off.

Defence barrister Charles MacCreanor QC said Coleman's plea should be welcomed by the Crown, as there would have been difficulties in prosecuting the case as a majority of the evidence against his client was "hear say and circumstantial."

He was told he will serve 18 months in custody, followed by 18 months in licence when he is released.

Detective Superintendent Bobby Singleton from the PSNI. Credit: Pacemaker

Detective Superintendent Bobby Singleton said the conviction was a "significant success" for the Paramilitary Crime Task Force.

He said: “Paramilitaries exploit their own communities through various types of criminality. David Coleman wasn't defending people within his community instead he was trying, as all paramilitaries do, to control and exploit them.

"While there can be challenges for us in advancing investigations into paramilitary linked crime where victims are not able to co-operate with us, we target the individuals and groups we believe are responsible and look for any and all evidence of their criminality in order to bring them to justice. Just as we have done successfully done in this case."