Belfast Telegraph

Prison for 'memory loss' riot thug

A man who claimed his memory had been wiped after being in a coma has been jailed for two separate instances of rioting.

Thomas Johnston received a three-month prison sentence over his involvement in separate outbreaks of disorder last year.

Even though the 33-year-old pleaded guilty to two counts of riotous behaviour, he told police he had no recollection of the events.

Belfast Magistrates Court heard his severe memory loss was a consequence of a drug overdose which plunged him into a coma doctors feared he would never recover from.

Johnston, of Mayo Court in Belfast, was seen filming and remonstrating with police in the Woodvale area of the city on July 12.

Prosecutors said he was seen smashing a brick on the road, lifting half and advancing towards police lines. CCTV footage of the incident was disrupted by the deployment of a water cannon.

Johnston was again spotted throwing a missile at police during disorder at North Street and Royal Avenue on August 9.

Defence solicitor Matthew Higgins told the court that his client was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic who has suffered chronic drug and alcohol addiction.

Acknowledging Johnston's health problems, District Judge Rosalie Prytherch imposed a two-month jail sentence for the July incident and a further month for his role in the August outbreak.

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