Belfast man cleared of having petrol bomb at loyalist riot
A Belfast man was cleared today of having a petrol bomb during loyalist rioting in the city.
Even though the judge found Raymond Carlisle had been "up to no good" she could not be certain he was carrying the suspected device later recovered by police.
Carlisle, of Bray Close in the city, was instead bound over to keep the peace for 12 months due to his presence at the scene of disturbances.
The 21-year-old was arrested last July amid serious public disorder linked to restrictions on an Orange Order parade.
Footage from a police helicopter showed him in the Woodvale area, apparently carrying something towards police and then retreating.
Belfast Magistrates' Court heard he was then seen placing an object on the ground and kicking it away.
Prosecutors claimed this was a bottle with a rag in it and smelling of petrol later recovered by police.
It was also alleged that a balaclava and gloves found in the area had been discarded by Carlisle.
However, forensic tests on those items provided no definitive DNA match to the defendant.
No fingerprint evidence or traces of any flammable liquid were found on his clothing either.
Instead, the prosecution claimed there was a strong circumstantial case that Carlisle had tried to light a petrol bomb and then ran off holding it.
The judge was also asked to draw an adverse inference from his decision not to give evidence on his own behalf.
Defence counsel Declan Quinn argued this an understandable move by his client to avoid potentially incriminating himself for any future charges brought against him.
Mr Quinn also stressed others were seen at the same location before police seized the suspected device.
"There's lots of people in the area, there's chaos as police are under attack," he said.
Pointing to a 22-minute break in the helicopter footage, he added: "There are just too many gaps in the case to allow the court to be satisfied it was either a petrol bomb he had at that time or that another person had not been at the scene and left it there."
Ruling on the contested hearing, Deputy District Judge Amanda Brady said: "Having watched the CCTV footage it's clear that the defendant was up to no good that particular night.
"It clearly shows him holding something aloft, it shows him running up the steps and it shows him before that discarding what turns out to be a balaclava and pair of gloves."
But she acquitted Carlisle of the charge of possessing a petrol bomb in suspicious circumstances because his guilt had not been proven beyond reasonable doubt.
Although the judge described his behaviour was highly suspicious, she acknowledged the significant time gap between his arrest and police recovering the bottle. During that period others were at the location.
She added: "However, I'm not going to let him off scot-free."
Carlisle was instead bound over to keep the peace for 12 months in the sum of £200. ends
Belfast Telegraph Digital