Belfast Telegraph

4 years for dropping breeze-block on PSNI officer's head - 14 years for attack on English police station

By Deborah McAleese

As tensions begin to rise at notorious flashpoints ahead of the Twelfth, the Chief Constable has called for tougher sentences for rioters here.

Matt Baggott said he believed that sentencing guidelines for those involved in public disorder should be reviewed as sentences for rioting in England and Wales are “far more punitive” and “more of a deterrent”.

“I think there is a need to look at comparative sentencing because it can be a deterrent,” said Mr Baggott.

The sentencing of rioters has been a subject of intense debate ever since those involved in disorder in England last summer appeared to have been dealt with more severely than those rioters brought before the Northern Ireland courts.

Last month in England a 25-year-old man was jailed for 14 years for rioting in Nottingham. Lance Francis was part of a mob who threw petrol bombs at a police station while three police officers and three support officers were inside last summer. Another member of the mob, Reiss Wilson (21), was jailed for 12 years for riot and reckless arson.

In comparison, a Spanish national, Roger Jarro Costa, who almost killed a female PSNI officer when he dropped a concrete block on her head during serious rioting in Ardoyne last July, received a four-year jail sentence.

And another Northern Ireland rioter, Timothy Andrew Bake, who was caught on CCTV throwing bricks and bottles at police on the Newtownards Road in June last year, walked free from court with a suspended sentence after the judge said he had a clear record.

The Chief Constable said that while tough sentences can act as a deterrent the problem cannot be fixed by prison sentences alone.

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