Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Officer’s trauma revealed as 26 riot accused returned for trial

A policewoman hit by a concrete block during rioting in north Belfast was left in excruciating pain and has been suffering from recurring nightmares, a court has heard.

In a statement, the constable recalled the “horrifying sound” of being struck as a disputed Twelfth of July parade in Ardoyne erupted into serious public disorder.

Details were disclosed as 26 defendants were returned for trial on charges connected with the riots.

One of them, Rodger Jarro Costa (29), a Spanish man with an address at Ulsterville Avenue, Belfast, is accused of riotous |assembly and causing grievous bodily harm to the policewoman.

She was the most seriously injured out of a total of 48 officers hurt during three nights of mob |violence last summer.

A prosecution lawyer told the city's magistrates’ court that the grievous bodily harm charge against Costa was justified due to the extent and impact of her |injuries.

He read parts of her statement in which she said: “I felt incredible force hit me on the back of the head and shoulders.

“I remember the horrifying sound I made as I fell. The pain to my neck and back was instant and excruciating.”

The officer recalled being unable to move as missiles continued to strike her.

As her account was read to the court, one of the accused, who all appeared together in court, |muttered: “Harden her.”

In a second statement she described suffering injuries to her cervical spine, numbness in her arms, pins and needles, tinnitus, severe headaches, pain to her jaw and bleeding gums.

She was kept in the Royal Victoria Hospital for three days, had to undergo physical therapy and was unfit for duty for a period.

Prosecuting lawyer Philip Henry told the court the officer also suffered from anxiety, sleep problems, constant ringing in her ears and recurring nightmares.

A defence solicitor claimed her two statements gave contradicting accounts of the extent of her |injuries.

He also questioned the level of medical evidence, and asked for the grievous bodily harm allegation against Costa to be dropped.

But District Judge Fiona Bagnall ruled that the charge should stand.

She granted a prosecution application for the 26 accused to be returned for trial at Belfast Crown Court on a date to be fixed.

All but three of the suspects were released on continuing bail.

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