Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 October 2014

Riot man avoids jail for soaking police officer in beer

A Belfast man who poured a tin of beer over a police officer during street disorder has been handed a suspended prison sentence

A Belfast man who poured a tin of beer over a police officer during street disorder has been handed a suspended prison sentence.

The case against Mitchell Preston was heard at Belfast Magistrates Court last October, when sentencing on a charge of riotous behaviour was deferred to determine whether or not he could keep out of trouble during this year's marching season.

Preston (20), from Knockwood Crescent, admitted a charge of riotous behaviour on July 12 last year, when he was captured on police CCTV at the scene of serious street disorder on the Lower Newtownards Road.

Police lines were attacked by a "large crowd" of loyalists and Preston was observed picking up the tin and pouring it over an officer before throwing it at police lines.

The PPS said images were released to the media of those involved in the trouble. Preston's image was one of these, prompting him to contact police.

The court heard that during interview Preston viewed the CCTV and "admitted his behaviour was disgusting". He also apologised for his actions.

Defence solicitor Conor Houston said that Preston – like so many other young men – came before the court on rioting charges yet had no criminal records, had good prospects, and were from stable family backgrounds.

Telling District Judge Fiona Bagnall that Preston had proved he had "kept out of trouble" during the contentious marching period this month, Mr Houston revealed his client was now working with young people within his local community.

Mrs Bagnall handed Preston a three-month prison sentence, which she suspended for two years.

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