Belfast Telegraph

Loyalist rioter branded 'an eejit' by judge is jailed

By Ashleigh McDonald

A loyalist rioter has been jailed after being branded a "complete eejit" by a Crown Court judge.

Robert John Stewart (32) could be seen bare-chested climbing on to a PSNI Land Rover in one incident captured on CCTV last Twelfth of July.

After viewing the footage Judge Corinne Philpott QC told Belfast Crown Court that Stewart "looks like a complete eejit".

Stewart – who has been shot and had both arms broken by loyalist paramilitaries – was also filmed kicking police shields and recording officers on his mobile phone.

The Newtownabbey man took part in two riots in Belfast last summer, and will now spend 11 months behind bars.

The court heard that Stewart was filmed by police throwing three missiles at police lines in the Peter's Hill area on August 9, 2013. When he was subsequently interviewed, he denied throwing missiles and said he was practising for the javelin.

Violence had earlier erupted following a Parades Commission determination not to allow a loyalist flute band to walk past the Ardoyne shop fronts on its return journey on July 12 last year.

Crown prosecutor Joseph Murphy said Stewart, from Glencoole House, was part of a group of loyalists in the Twaddell Avenue/ Woodvale Park area who confronted police, and was captured on police footage for 37 minutes.

During that time, the father-of-one threw a number of objects at police lines including a traffic cone, a lump of concrete and a bottle. His image was released by the PSNI and a member of the public identified him. When he was arrested and interviewed, Stewart said he was extremely drunk that day.

Mr Murphy said that when Stewart was shown the footage, he smirked and refused to confirm whether or not it was him. When asked if he was remorseful, Stewart replied: "Do the police feel remorseful for beating people with batons?"

Stewart's barrister Sean Devine said his client had been the victim of several attacks at the hands of loyalist paramilitaries, and said Stewart's involvement in both riots could have been to "ingratiate himself" with such elements.

Judge Philpott handed Stewart a sentence of one year and 10 months. He will spend 11 months of the sentence in custody, with the remainder spend on supervised licence when he is released from custody.

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