Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Man travelled 30 miles for Ardoyne riot, court told

A man made a 30-mile trip to Belfast to take part in the Twelfth of July rioting a court heard yesterday.

Paul Donegan (26), from Dunclug Park in Ballymena, is accused of riotous behaviour in Ardoyne on July 12.

Bail was refused after a police officer told Belfast Magistrates Court that Mr Donegan specifically came to the area “to take part in disturbances”.

A 16-year-old also appeared in court accused of vehicle hijacking and attacking police.

Police claimed the youth was at the centre of serious disorder which erupted in the Ardoyne area. The suspect, who cannot be named because of his age, was in the middle of rolling a cannabis joint when officers went to arrest him two weeks later, a judge was told.

He was remanded in custody along with Donegan, who is alleged to have travelled nearly 30 miles from his home in Ballymena to take part in the trouble.

The teenager faces charges of riotous assembly, attempting to cause grievous bodily harm to |police officers with intent, possession of an offensive weapon — namely a 5ft pole and bottles — attempting to damage a police Land Rover wing mirror and window, seizing control of a Toyota car by force, destroying the vehicle, and possession of herbal cannabis.

A detective sergeant who said he could connect him with the offences told Belfast Magistrates Court yesterday: “This individual I would say, having examined CCTV footage, would be one of the most prominent individuals within that riot.

“From the very start, right through until the early hours of the morning, his activities were wide-ranging from attacking |police officers with poles, pipes and other materials to the hijacking of the vehicle which was set alight.”

Opposing his release, the officer claimed the youth could not be controlled, with even his own mother said to be in a degree of fear of him.

“When police officers went in to arrest him he was in the process of rolling a joint,” he added.

A defence solicitor claimed there were serious problems with the strength of the police evidence against his client.

He argued that the teenager had been identified wearing a hooded top and pointed out that the vast majority of the crowd at Ardoyne were similarly dressed.

But District Judge Fiona Bagnall ruled there was too great a risk to release the accused at this stage.

Donegan, of Dunclug Park, Ballymena, also failed to secure bail. He faces a single charge of riotous assembly on the same date and location.

The sergeant told the court that Donegan admitted throwing stones during interview, but claimed there was also evidence that he was involved in kicking out at police lines.

“He's from Ballymena and I believe he specifically travelled down to the Ardoyne area to take part in these disturbances,” he said.

Both accused will appear again before the court next month.

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