Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Man travelled 30 miles to join Twelfth riots, court hears

A total of 32 police officers were injured in violence in Belfast on Friday
A total of 32 police officers were injured in violence in Belfast on Friday

A man allegedly attacked police vehicles with planks of wood after travelling nearly 30 miles to become involved in Twelfth of July disorder, a court heard today.

Trevor Ashcroft jumped up and down on a PSNI Landrover in north Belfast waving a Union flag "defiantly", it was claimed.

The 53-year-old, with a hostel address at Linenhall Street, Ballymena, faces a charge of riotous behaviour in the Woodvale area of the city.

He was among a number of accused to appear before a special sitting of Belfast Magistrates' Court.

Other defendants charged in connection with widespread violence included a boy just turned 14.

As Ashcroft was led into the dock he made a series of outbursts to deny the allegation against him and claim he was "not a well person".

District Judge Harry McKibbin was told he has a learning disability and the mental age of an eight or nine-year-old.

Objecting to bail, a police constable set out the scale of trouble which erupted over the prohibited Orange Order parade through the Ardoyne area on July 12.

He said dozens of officers had been injured as police came under attack from bottles, fireworks and petrol bombs.

It was alleged that CCTV footage showed Ashcroft on the bonnet of a PSNI Landrover.

"He was waving a Union Jack flag in a defiant manner and attacking police vehicles with planks of woods," the officer said.

A defence lawyer claimed Ashcroft's learning disability had "clouded his judgment".

She added: "He went to Belfast just to go and see the Twelfth day."

Granting bail due to the accused's medical situation, Judge McKibbin stressed there were special circumstances in the case.

He banned Ashcroft from going within half a mile of Belfast's Crumlin Road and ordered him to report to police daily.

A curfew and alcohol prohibition was also imposed.

Also appearing before the court was a 31-year-old man accused of possessing a petrol bomb and resisting police.

The charges against Gareth Courtney, of Highfield Drive, Belfast, relate to trouble in north Belfast last night (Sunday).

He did not seek bail and was remanded in custody until Friday.

Earlier, a boy aged 14 appeared on a charge of riotous assembly.

The allegation against the youth, who cannot be identified because of his age, is linked to disorder on the O'Neill Road, Newtownabbey on Sunday.

He was granted bail but ordered not go within 500 metres of any parade, protest or demonstration.

A fourth accused, Andrew McCann, 25, of Madrid Street, Belfast, faces charges of obstructing traffic, disorderly behaviour and resisting police.

The charges are connected to road protests in east Belfast on Sunday.

His lawyer said he had been socialising and went to get more alcohol from an off licence when the alleged offences occurred.

McCann was also released on bail, with the same prohibition on going within 500 metres of any parade or demonstration.

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