Judge issues prison warning to would-be Twelfth rioters
A judge has issued a stern warning that anyone who involves themselves in rioting during the marching season this year can expect to go to jail.
Speaking as he jailed two rioters for a total of seven years, Belfast Recorder Judge Tom Burgess said last year he had warned that stiffer jail sentences would be handed down.
“That was the message that was given and that is the message that will be delivered,” he added.
He told Belfast Crown Court that Northern Ireland as a whole “had come a long way in a relatively short period of time”.
“Those who involve themselves therefore do so in the face of public rejection of that time-weary behaviour and also put themselves on the other side of the fence |from the processes to put such matters firmly in the past,” the judge said.
The two defendants before him, Kevin McFall (19), from Moyard Parade, and Martin Brannigan (25), from Monagh Drive, had pleaded guilty to rioting on July 12 last year at the notorious Ardoyne shops flashpoint in north Belfast.
McFall had also admitted to throwing a petrol bomb at police and to exposing himself to them.
Prosecution lawyer David Russell said Brannigan, who was jailed for two years, was recorded on CCTV throwing 11 various |missiles of stones, bricks or bottles. McFall was ordered to spend two years in custody and three on licence and Brannigan to spend one in custody and the other on licence.
McFall, said the lawyer, had been seen deliberately aiming his petrol bomb at officers walking in support of a Land Rover during what was described as a “concerted attack”. He was also recorded repeatedly sniffing at a bag of solvents, exposing himself to police and throwing a further missile. In total, the lawyer said the rioting at Ardoyne shopfronts went on for just over eight hours. During that time, police came under attack from rioters throwing missiles and petrol bombs.
In response they fired 62 baton rounds and used a water cannon.
He said 19 officers were hurt in the disturbances which erupted after three Orange lodges and a band walked up the Crumlin Road from the main city centre parade.