Belfast Telegraph

Schizophrenic man caught carrying petrol bomb spared jail due to medical condition

A diagnosed schizophrenic caught carrying a petrol bomb was spared jail today 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 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 was "lingering somewhere he shouldn't have been".

Deputy District Judge Peter Prenter told the lawyer his client was lucky to be caught before anything happened.

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

However, he acknowledged the defendant 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.

Mr Prenter confirmed that a prison sentence would have been imposed if it weren't for Courtney's condition.

He said: "Because of the peculiar circumstances of this case and this gentleman's mental health issues which are clearly recorded and diagnosed I will make a probation order."

The judge imposed a maximum three-year period 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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