Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Man used police baton in Twelfth riot, court told

An alleged rioter attacked police with one of their own batons during Twelfth of July violence in Belfast, a court heard today.

William Rodgers is accused of stealing the weapon from officers deployed to enforce a ban on the Orange Order parading through the Ardoyne area.
 

The 36-year-old, of Glencairn Way, Belfast, was among three people brought before the city's Magistrates' Court in connection with the ongoing trouble.
 

He faces charges of riotous assembly, theft of a PSNI baton, possession of an offensive weapon with intent to commit grievous bodily harm, and attempted criminal damage to a police Landrover.
 

Dressed in a Glasgow Rangers football shirt, Rodgers nodded when the alleged offences were put to him.
 

It was claimed that he was among the "most prolific" offenders at violent standoff on the Woodvale Road.
 

Opposing bail, a police officer said CCTV footage showed Rodgers attacking police lines.
 

"The defendant is also seen striking police with a baton taken from riot police, standing on a police Landrover and attempting to break the wing mirrors," he told the court.
 

Following his arrest Rodgers admitted being the person on the footage but claimed to have no recollection of the incident.
 

Defence barrister Mark Farrell argued that his client was not an organiser of the riots and had no previous history of similar offending.
 

But District Judge Alan White refused bail due to the risk of further offences.
 

Remanding the accused in custody until next month, he told the accused: "There's clearly strong evidence against you which is likely to lead in due course to a lengthy custodial sentence."
 

Meanwhile, the court heard how another man was spotted tying a mask to a troublemaker after going to see what was happening.
 

Andrew McVeigh, 22, of Woodvale Avenue, Belfast, is charged with encouraging or assisting a riot on July 13.
 

The court heard he was allegedly in breach of previous bail by being at the scene of a protest.
 

His lawyer argued that the new charge was limited to a 30-minute period.
 

"He is not seen throwing anything at police and after he tied the mask to an unknown person he returned home," she said.
 

"He made a foolish decision to do this and when police contacted him on the telephone he handed himself in."
 

McVeigh could lose his job with Parcel Force if refused fresh bail, she added.
 

However, Judge White ordered him to be remanded in custody until August 13.
 

A third accused, Andrew Mercer, 29, with an address at Victoria Street, Belfast, faces charges of riotous assembly and criminal damage to a police Landrover wing mirror.
 

His barrister, Michael Boyd, confirmed no bail application was being made.
 

"Mr Mercer has already made admissions about his behaviour," he told the court.
 

Mercer was also remanded in custody for four weeks.

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