Belfast Telegraph

Judge in warning over civil disorder: sentencing must get tougher

BY MICHAEL DONNELLY

A judge has warned that rioters will only avoid a prison sentence in "exceptional circumstances''.

Judge Gordon Kerr QC made his remarks after the Court of Appeal overturned suspended sentences handed down to Union flag rioters on the grounds that they were "unduly lenient''.

The Belfast Crown Court judge said that as a result of the judgment, the courts had to hand down "tougher and deterrent sentences'' to those involved in serious public disorder.

He said this as he jailed rioter David Irwin for 15 months for being in a loyalist mob which attacked police following a republican parade in Belfast.

The court was told 21-year-old Irwin was part of a crowd which hurled missiles at police lines during sustained attacks in Denmark Street last September, after a "large group of loyalists'' attacked a republican parade as it passed Carlisle Circus.

Police CCTV footage showed Irwin, of Highpark Drive in the Highfield estate, west Belfast, throwing missiles at police.

Irwin was sentenced to 30 months, with 15 to be spent in custody and the rest on licence.

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