Officers trapped on farmyard as tractor rammed into three police cars in attempted murder in Tyrone

belfast high court
The High Court heard that police officers were trapped in a farmyard as they were 'forced to take cover' following attack on their cars Credit: PA

PSNI officers were allegedly trapped in a Co Tyrone farmyard after a tractor rammed three of their cars as part of an alleged attempt to kill them, the High Court heard today.

Prosecutors claimed the policemen were deliberately targeted and forced to take cover during an attack which caused up to £250,000 worth of damage.

At one point, the driver of the tractor broke through gates one officer used for shelter and declared “You have f***ed with the wrong family”, a judge was told.

Matthew Nolan was refused bail on two charges of attempted murder, the court heard.

The 25-year-old, from Fivemiletown, is also accused of threatening to kill police officers, three counts of criminal damage and further motoring offences in connection with the incident. 

The judge heard police went to Nolan’s address shortly after midnight on 24 September last year amid reports of a suspected drunk driver leaving the village in a Ford Fiesta.

As checks were carried out in a nearby farmyard, a tractor was allegedly driven directly at two of the officers.

The policemen had to flee to avoid being struck, according to the prosecution.

Crown lawyer Mark Conlon said: “The tractor was observed repeatedly driving forward and reversing at speed into three vehicles on multiple occasions, causing extensive damage believed to be in the region of £250,000.

“The force of the collision was so extreme that the cars in question were moved approximately 20 yards, with one of the armoured vehicles spun 180 degrees around.

“They were left in a state they could not be driven and the officers were effectively trapped at the property.”

As one of the policemen sheltered at a nearby cowshed the tractor allegedly advanced directly towards him, ramming into gates which broke off and struck him on the leg.

“The tractor was again observed reversing and the driver was heard to shout ‘You have f***ed with the wrong family’,” counsel submitted.

At that point, the officer claimed to have heard the engine revving and realised it was coming back in his direction. 

Mr Conlon added: "He felt there was nowhere for him to run to take cover; his only option was to go over to cattle feeding bars and get in behind the animals present there.

“The officer maintains that the driver of the tractor was attempting to kill him.”

When the vehicle finally reversed away he re-emerged and headed for the house to check on his colleagues, the court heard. 

During further searches of the area police located a tractor and a Ford Fiesta with its number plates removed.

Nolan, who was arrested the following day, has also been charged with dangerous driving on Cooneen Road in Fivemiletown, driving when unfit through drink or drugs on the main street in the village, and driving while disqualified.

He denies involvement in the alleged offences, claiming that he had been at a pub in Co Monaghan, drank up to 15 pints of beer and then walked home. 

Defence barrister Craig Patton argued that his client has spent five and a half months in custody and should now be released under conditions.

A £5,000 cash surety was offered in a bid to allay any concerns.

Refusing bail, however, Mr Justice Fowler identified a prima facie case that Nolan poses a danger to the public.

The judge said: “Clearly on the facts, there is a very serious risk of re-offending."

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