Belfast Telegraph

Man jailed for throwing bottle after son injured amid Twelfth riots

A man was jailed today for throwing a bottle in retaliation after his son was injured during disorder at a sectarian interface.

William Ferguson was one of two men handed two-month prison sentences for their involvement in Twelfth of July trouble in east Belfast.

The 44-year-old, of Carnamena Gardens in the city, pleaded guilty to a single charge of riotous behaviour.

He was arrested after being identified on evidence gathering footage of disturbances on the Lower Newtownards Road.

Violence flared in the area over disputed Parades Commission restrictions on an Orange Order march.

Ferguson was seen throwing a bottle in the direction of the interface at St Matthew's Catholic Church, Belfast Magistrates' Court heard.

He told police he reacted in anger at his son being struck and injured by missiles coming from the nationalist Short Strand district.

A defence lawyer said Ferguson, described as being employed in an unspecified public capacity, left before serious rioting broke out.

He argued that the defendant had over-reacted after being provoked by what happened to his son.

"He threw one bottle. As soon as he had he went looking for his son who had been taken to a nearby church where people cleaned him up," the solicitor added.

But District Judge Fiona Bagnall pointed to a record of the incident where Ferguson was described as "baiting" Short Strand residents and shouting at police.

Imposing the two-month jail term, she said: "I cannot accept people find themselves in these situation in this community naively.

"These situations have been well signposted; anybody there and then engaging in this type of behaviour knows exactly what they are doing."

Earlier she imposed the same two month prison sentence on 23-year-old Thomas Rea, of Melfort Drive, Belfast.

Rea admitted two charges of riotous behaviour and criminal damage over his role in disorder on the Newtownards Road.

He was seen on CCTV footage kicking out at police lines and then pulling a wing mirror off a PSNI Land Rover.

Rea claimed he was drunk and angered at being targeted by some in the Short Strand as the Orange Order procession was passing.

Defence lawyer Pat Kelly told the court: "The people who were accompanying the parade came under sustained attack from the other side of the community.

"But that's still no justification for my client or anyone else (becoming involved)."

Sentencing Rea, Judge Bagnall said: "Sadly this court has had to deal with too many of these types of cases."

She agreed to grant him bail pending a planned appeal of the jail term imposed.

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