Belfast Telegraph

Four months for riot thug caught on police camera

By John Cassidy

A Tayto crisp factory worker has been jailed for four months over his involvement in serious public disorder at a republican anti-internment parade last year.

Benjamin Gamble (21), of Castle Rise, Tandragee, pleaded guilty at Belfast Crown Court to a single charge of rioting on August 9, 2013.

A prosecutor told the court that Gamble was seen on police CCTV footage throwing three missiles over a 25-minute period at PSNI riot lines trying to move loyalist protesters off Royal Avenue to allow the republican parade to pass.

As the footage was played to Deputy Belfast Recorder Judge Corinne Philpott QC, the prosecutor pointed out unmasked Gamble "smashing up bricks on the pavement'' and giving them to other loyalist rioters.

The PSNI set up Operation Titan to investigate the trouble and the court was told Gamble's picture was circulated.

"A Press release was issued and police received information identifying the defendant,'' said the prosecutor.

Following his arrest, the court heard Gamble was interviewed by police. Asked where he was on August 9, 2013, he replied: "Royal Avenue.'' An officer asked him what he was involved in and the defendant replied: "Rioting.''

A defence barrister argued that he believed the case reached the threshold of "highly exceptional circumstances'' which would allow the court to suspend any prison sentence. He said Gamble had a clear record, had turned his back on "those anti-social elements'' that had landed him in trouble, and held down a good job, recently receiving a promotion.

The lawyer told Judge Philpott QC that Gamble's mother was suffering from depression and said her doctor noted that this would be "exacerbated'' if her son went to jail.

The lawyer said Gamble faced losing his job if he was sent to jail.

Judge Philpott QC remarked: "I regard that as an aggravating feature in relation to this case. I do not understand why a young man like this, who has a good job, a good family background, is involved in cross-community work and then gets on a bus and goes to Belfast to get involved in a riot.

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