Warrant issued for U.K.-based airman who missed hearing
RAF MILDENHALL, England — A warrant was issued for the arrest of a Britain-based airman this week after he failed to show up for a routine court hearing.
The Northampton Magistrates’ Court issued a “warrant with bail” Monday after the latest hearing regarding charges an anti-war activist is pursuing against Airman 1st Class Frank McDonald of RAF Croughton, England.
Lindis Percy, 66, is seeking to prosecute McDonald and two Ministry of Defence policemen in connection with a 2006 incident in which she illegally got onto Croughton and was allegedly roughed up by McDonald while being detained.
However, it was unclear Thursday where the warrant stands. Maj. John Haynes, a 3rd Air Force spokesman, said he was informed by the legal office that British authorities intended to drop the warrant Thursday, but he could not confirm if the warrant had indeed been rescinded.
McDonald currently does not have legal representation because he has not been formally charged, Haynes said.
Repeated queries to the Northampton Magistrates’ Court clerk this week were not answered.
McDonald did not respond to requests for comment.
“It seems no one contacted the court to say he wouldn’t be there,” said Lawrence English, a government prosecutor in the midst of deciding whether his agency, the Crown Prosecution Service, will take up Percy’s case.
A warrant with bail is a measure magistrates can take to make a defendant show up for hearings, according to Dawn Burrows, a London-based attorney.
But if police are able to locate and arrest McDonald, he likely won’t spend one night in jail, Burrows said.
“He’ll get arrested, he’ll be taken to the police station and then he’ll be released immediately,” she said, adding that the warrant with bail is basically a firm way to remind someone that he need to show up for court.
Percy claims McDonald, of Croughton’s 422nd Communications Squadron, injured her when he threw her to the ground and handcuffed her in February 2006 when she was found walking on the base.
Earlier this month, English agreed to consider Percy’s request for prosecution, and he said he’ll decide by the next hearing on May 6 whether the CPS will proceed.
It was unclear Thursday how the status of forces agreement and other U.S.-U.K. agreements on visiting troops would affect authorities’ ability to arrest or charge McDonald in connection with this case.
McDonald did not attend previous hearings because his presence wasn’t required, Haynes said.
English said he “was not particularly bothered” by McDonald not showing up in court.
“It’s more anxiety from the court,” he said.