A Spanish rioter who threw a concrete block on to a female police officer from the roof of a shop in Belfast turned to face her in court and told her: “I’m sorry”.
In a remarkable scene, Judge Tom Burgess told Rodger Jarro Costa: “Why don't you turn around and say you are sorry? She is the one who has had to go through this awful event.”
Costa’s victim was sitting just feet away in the public gallery of Court 14 at Belfast Crown Court.
He turned around and said to the policewoman: “I'm sorry for the injuries I caused.”
Costa (29) pleaded guilty yesterday to attempting to cause grievous bodily harm to the PSNI constable during a riot in Ardoyne last year.
It also emerged in court that Costa’s parents will fly to Northern Ireland from Spain in early July for their son’s sentencing.
Costa, who is believed to be from Barcelona but has an address in Ulsterville Avenue in south Belfast, had already pleaded guilty to rioting on July 12 last year.
But yesterday, as his trial was due to start, he pleaded guilty to attempting to cause the officer grievous bodily harm.
The woman officer was badly injured after a concrete block was thrown at her as trouble flared at the Ardoyne shops in north Belfast following an Orange parade.
The officer, wearing civilian clothes in court yesterday, has only recently returned to work.
After Costa’s apology, Judge Burgess asked her if she would like him to go over to her and apologise face to face.
However, the blonde PSNI officer indicated that she was happy with what Costa had said.
A previous court hearing heard a statement from her in which she said: “I felt an 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 PSNI constable was one of 48 PSNI officers injured during three nights of violence when 26 people were arrested. All have pleaded guilty
Two others pleaded guilty yesterday. Belfast men Stephen James Fox (34) from Victoria Parade admitted an offence of rioting and of attempting to cause criminal damage to police Land Rovers and Hugh Toal (45) from Alliance Avenue pleaded guilty to riot.