Belfast Telegraph

Rioter with autistic son will still go to prison, says judge

By John Cassidy

A Belfast judge has refused to suspend a 10-month prison sentence to allow a self-confessed rioter to look after his autistic son.

Recorder David McFarland said he did not believe the personal circumstances of Ryan Thomas Yorke met the threshold of "highly exceptional circumstances'' as set out in a recent Court of Appeal judgment.

Yorke (29), of Alliance Road, north Belfast, pleaded guilty at Belfast Crown to a single charge of riotous assembly last year.

The court heard he was captured on footage by police evidence-gatherers throwing seven bottles at police on July 12, 2013.

Prosecution solicitor John O'Neill told Judge McFarland that a total of 57 petrol bombs were hurled at police lines.

"A total of 20 police officers were injured with five being hospitalised as a result of their injuries.''

Yorke, said Mr O'Neill, was arrested in February this year after voluntarily attending Musgrave PSNI station.

"He told police he was 'sorry and was stupid for joining in with what other people were doing.'''

Defence barrister Richard McConkey asked Judge David McFarland to suspend any prison sentence imposed as Yorke looked after his seven-year-old son twice a week while his mother worked part-time at a supermarket.

He said Yorke's son was autistic and also suffered from ADHD.

Mr McConkey added that he believed Yorke's personal circumstances met the threshold which would allow the court to suspend any prison sentence.

However, Judge David McFarland said: "It is with regret that in my view there are no highly exceptional circumstances in this case.''

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