Belfast Telegraph

Mentally ill man avoids prison over Belfast petrol bomb

By Alan Erwin

A diagnosed schizophrenic caught carrying a petrol bomb has been spared jail due to his medical condition.

Gareth Courtney was instead ordered to serve three years on probation based on the circumstances of the case.

The 32-year-old, of Ohio Street, Belfast, admitted charges of possessing a petrol bomb in suspicious circumstances and resisting police.

He was carrying the device along with other bottles when he was arrested in the Ardoyne area of the city on July 15 last year.

Belfast Magistrates' Court heard he had been drinking with his brother at the time.

Defence barrister Con O'Neill said Courtney had been "lingering somewhere he shouldn't have been".

Deputy District Judge Peter Prenter told the lawyer that Courtney was lucky he had been caught before anything happened.

Mr Prenter pointed out that anyone found in possession of petrol bombs usually goes to prison.

However, he acknowledged the defendant's diagnosis as being schizophrenic.

"He knows he shouldn't be drinking, he needs to stay on his medication and his brother has a lot to answer for," the judge said.

He imposed a maximum three-year period of probation for the possession of the petrol bomb.

Courtney also received a two-year conditional discharge for resisting police.

Mr Prenter told him: "You are very, very lucky today because of what is contained in the medical report."

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